Transcript of Full Interview Available Below
Bennett and Becky Borden are a married couple who both experience same sex attraction and who were both in same sex marriages and relationships for many years prior to returning to the LDS Church and prior to their marriage to each other. Bennett and Becky both grew up in the South in active LDS families. They met about 28 years ago when Bennett was a young man and served his mission in Becky’s ward. Bennett became close with Becky’s family and over they years they have remained friends. In their early 20s, both Bennett and Becky came out as gay, left the Church and went on to live a gay lifestyle for many years. After many years away they both decided separately they wanted to come back to the church. They met up at Becky’s family reunion and knew they should get married. They returned to church attendance, were married and after time had their blessings restored and were sealed in the temple. A lot can be learned and gained from their amazing story, their relationships, their faith transition, their interactions with family and church leaders, and their spiritual experiences.
- 3:15 Bennett’s upbringing
- 5:00 Becky’s upbringing
- 7:30 Bennett’s close relationship with Becky’s family
- 8:00 After his mission, Bennett’s first marriage to a woman
- 9:30 Bennett lives a gay lifestyle and stops going to church
- 10:30 Becky’s journey coming out as gay
- 13:30 Their relationships with God as they left the church and lived the gay lifestyle
- 14:30 Bennett’s experience studying other religions
- 16:00 Becky’s experience joining several other churches
- 18:00 What can we learn from our crises of faith?
- 19:00 Every relationship has goodness to them
- 20:30 “The light and love of God shines everywhere”/Growth can happen even as we are lost
- 22:00 Becky’s excommunication and the blessing of it
- 24:30 The thing that brought them back to the gospel
- 26:00 Bennett’s same sex relationship and what brought him back
- 28:20 Becky and where she was as Bennett’s relationship ended
- 31:00 Leaders and family members and how they reached out to Bennett and Becky while they were living a gay lifestyle
- 34:00 Love within church disciplinary councils
- 35:30 Bennett and Becky’s friendship as they came back to the church
- 44:00 How to reconcile thoughts of going back to the church with being gay
- 45:00 Reading the scriptures assuming it’s all true
- 48:00 Bennett and Becky decision to get married
- 50:00 Becky’s experience meeting with her bishop to discuss coming back to church
- 53:20 Bennett’s experience meeting with his bishop to discuss coming back to church
- 56:15 How Satan worked to keep them from coming back
- 57:00 Their marriage by a bishop in Washington D.C.
- 58:45 Bennett’s ex-husband Richard joined the church
- 1:02:30 How to pray for a child with same sex attraction
- 1:08:00 How can leaders use Northstar to help them
- 1:09:00 Message to individuals wanting to come back to the church
Bennett & Becky would love to connect with anyone who has questions or needs further support. You can reach them at their joint email: Bennettandbecky@gmail.com
Kurt Francom: [00:03:00] Today I’m in a beautiful Immigration Canyon with my good friends Bennett and Becky Borden. How are you two?
Becky Borden: Doing great, thanks.
Bennett Borden: Very well.
Kurt Francom: I first met you two at the North Star Conference back in, what was that? March?
Becky Borden: March.
Kurt Francom: March of 2017. You were there. You were one of the keynotes, talking about your experience. Now, let’s just get you two in context. Bennett, we’ll start with you. How would you describe your upbringing, where you’re from and maybe what landed you on a mission? [00:03:30]
Bennett Borden: Sure, thanks, Kurt. So I’m from a small town in Tennessee, outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. So I was born and raised there to first generation converts. I have 5 older brothers and no sisters. You can imagine what that was like growing up. Growing up in kind of a rural south where the church wasn’t very big and strong, so we know everybody in our little branch, but eventually it became a ward. But also this challenging were growing up in the South, because I had always known since I was a little kid [00:04:00] that I was gay. I came out of a difficult growing up period because of that. In fact, when that became more of an issue in my life, it caused a separation to me and my family when I was a young teenager. So I spent a lot of my life alone as a younger kid. But eventually when I reconciled that with my family and went on a mission, I was a proselytism missionary, which was kind of a cool mission. You get to instead of going called to a mission, [00:04:30] every time you transfer, you transfer mission to mission. Which was nice, so I spend the first 8 months in Indiana. Then the second 8 months, I was in North Carolina, which was where I actually met Becky’s family, which is a big part of the story. Because her stepfather was our ward mission leader. So I spent a great deal of time with their family. Then I finished my mission in Michigan. But throughout that period, the same sex attraction was really part of my life ever since I was a small child. So [00:05:00] that really became to a predominant issue in my life. But that took me through my mission anyway.
Kurt Francom: And Becky, what about you? What was your upbringing like?
Becky Borden: So I was also born and raised in the south to a first generation convert parents. I am the oldest of 5 kids from my mother. I grew up member of the church and I did all the things that I was supposed to do and was president of all my little groups and president in all seminar president, [00:05:30] laurel president you know. I did all the things I was a modeling Mormon. But I knew from the age of probably 10 or 11 that I was attracted to girls. You know, some people may be a par of me to say this before, but when I knew that I liked girls more than other girls liked girls, I thought “yay!” I thought, “Yay, I’m special!” I didn’t occur to me that there was something wrong with me. I just thought, “hey I’ve got something. Not only I do appreciate, but I really like girls too. So yay, me.”
Kurt Francom: Interesting.
Becky Borden: So I [00:06:00] kind of went with that. I dated boys through high school. I never dated any girls in high school, but I got married by the time I was 21 to a boy. It was not the best decision I ever made. I ended up leaving the church during that time and was excommunicated, which was a huge busting in retrospect. I didn’t think so at the time. But it was in retrospect. So then that brings me to about the age of where we just left of with Bennett’s [00:06:30] story. But yeah, I met Bennett when I was 14. He was a missionary in our ward. We had almost 20 sisters and elders assigned to our ward, because it was rural North Carolina. So there was lots of work to do. The mission he was in was half of the stake. So when we had correlation and dessert on Saturday nights at our house, it was all afternoon and evening, because there were so many sisters and elders. The fun thing was, because my mom was also a stake missionary at the time, [00:07:00] whenever Bennett and his companion or anybody needed to go anywhere if they didn’t have a car, my mom took them wherever they need to go. So we spent a lot of time with him. We got to know Bennett really well in that 8 months. He just kind of became part of our family I think at that point. It was wonderful. We’ve stayed friends since that time for the last 25 years, 28 years now?
Bennett Borden: Yeah.
Becky Borden: Something ridiculous.
Kurt Francom: So after your mission Bennett, there’s still that connection with [00:07:30] Becky’s family. Just Christmas cards, maybe go visit? That type of thing?
Bennett Borden: Yeah. I called her a lot. So her family really became my family. Her little brothers and sisters became just like my family. We were very, very close for really the next 25 years.
Becky Borden: He was at people’s weddings and school plays and he came to family reunions. He was just part of our group. He was like the big brother.
Bennett Borden: I was very close to that family, which has been one of the great blessings of my life. But soon after my mission, I went to BYU [00:08:00] right after I got off my mission. After a couple semesters, I actually got married to a sister missionary who I was on my mission with. It was interesting, because she knew my background.
Kurt Francom: Your background of experiencing same-sex attraction?
Bennett Borden: Yeah, and kind of what I had gone through as a kid and all of that. She really wanted to marry me and I thought “that’s unusual’. This is going to be the only chance I have.” The right of ever having a marriage. So we got married; a temple [00:08:30] wedding. But within a couple of years, we got divorced, which was hard on everybody. But looking back on it, it’s a good thing. That was really challenging for me after I had gone on my mission and had a temple marriage and all these things. And yet, same sex attraction was still a huge part of my existence. When my first marriage fell apart, I wasn’t terribly thrilled with things.
Becky Borden: Nor God. [00:09:00]
Bennett Borden: Yeah, I was pretty mad at God at that point.
Kurt Francom: One of those things where you felt like you were doing everything you were supposed to do, right? You went on mission, you came home, found a girl to marry and that didn’t work.
Bennett Borden: Yeah, exactly. Followed all the formalities you were supposed to. We were Sunday school teachers and always formed presidencies and all that kind of stuff. Looking back on it now, I really understand much more about my journey. But at the time, I felt like–
Becky Borden: Betrayed almost.
Bennett Borden: Yeah. Just been handed a really raw deal. Why fight this anymore? Why? [00:09:30] And so I came out at that point and really was out for the next 20 years, living an openly gay lifestyle.
Kurt Francom: When you say you came out, your family was aware of that you were gay. But your just coming out is the full lifestyle and everything?
Bennett Borden: Yeah. Because when I went on my mission, and then got married, of course everyone was thrilled about that. Because “that’s oh good, he’s fixed, he’s good.”
Kurt Francom: He’s fixed!
Becky Borden: We fixed him. We prayed it. We prayed hard enough.
Bennett Borden: Yeah. And [00:10:00] so really when my marriage fell apart, I stopped going to church and I stopped trying to stop being gay. So I went out and I was very much in the gay community to the point where within a couple of months of my marriage falling apart, I actually met a man who I eventually married and I was with for the next 20 years.
Kurt Francom: That’s great. Becky what about your journey? I mean, at this point, you’re still don’t know of Bennett and what was your– where were you at when you heard [00:10:30] so of Bennett’s relationship falling apart and he sort of headed down a different path.
Becky Borden y: Well, I remember hearing that Bennett– I was in his wedding when he married this sister missionary. I was his brides maid. So I knew them both well.
Kurt Francom: There’s so much irony in your story.
Becky Borden: There’s so much irony. Really can’t make this up.
Bennett Borden: It only gets worse. Or more. I don’t want to say worse.
Becky Borden: Exactly. You can’t make this stuff up. So yeah, I was in the wedding and I knew them both and loved them both very much. I was sad that they divorced, but it was clear [00:11:00] that they weren’t happy. That’s way more important I think. I was going through my own stuff at the time, graduating from high school and going to college and then married this boy who turned out to have been not the nicest person to me at the time. So that was difficult. I knew during that time that I was interested in women. When my marriage ended after 2 years, it didn’t last very long, I came out [00:11:30] immediately. Because I knew, I was like “I’m done with this and I know who I am now.” I think I called my mom and said, “sit down”. And I told her “Hey, I’m gay and I’m divorcing Brian.” She dealt with it remarkably well.
Kurt Francom: I think you mentioned at North Star your family wasn’t a fan of Brian.
Becky Borden: No. No, no. They were thrilled that that, I think, that that marriage was over. They were not a fan of Brian. Yeah. He had not ingratiated himself with my family. So [00:12:00] yeah, they were OK with that. My mom said “you know, heavenly father told me that this was going to happen and that I needed to be prepared for it. So whatever it is, it’s fine. We’ll figure it out.” And I thought, “well, that’s not the response I expected.”
Kurt Francom: I was going to ask you: did you expect sort of a disappointed response?
Becky Borden: I wasn’t sure what to expect from her. I really didn’t know. But I knew that I owed her the curtesy of telling her. And I figured it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid. If I just went ahead and told [00:12:30] her all the things at one time, it would be easier. So she knows me well, and she dealt with it pretty well. So when I came out at that point, I was in several short-term relationships as I was trying to get my feet under me. I was 23 when I came out. I made some incredibly terrible decisions in relationships that were very difficult for me, very hard on me. Learned a lot in a very short amount of time. I had to ramp up very quickly. But I loved the community. [00:13:00] I loved being part of the gay community. I loved my identity. And it’s interesting, cause having grown up LDS and being told you’re unique and you’re special and you’re not like the rest, it was really no big stretch to be a lesbian and be unique and not like the rest.
Kurt Francom: You’re still a peculiar people.
Becky Borden: Right. I was like ‘Okay, I know how that works. I’m okay with that’. So I had no problem with it. I really truly loved my life. I had some wonderful friendships, some wonderful experiences in and amongst some difficult relationships.
Kurt Francom: Yeah. So [00:13:30] as both of you went through this transition of coming out and going down the path of living a gay lifestyle, how would you classify your faith? You Bennet, you were sort of angry with God at a moment, but I would imagine there was still something turning within you as far as faith and what you believed in and your relationship with the gospel?
Bennett Borden: Yeah, definitely. And you know, my anger at God actually worked in my benefit. Because when it says ‘ask and you shall receive’, that works if you’re yelling at God too, any kind of communication [00:14:00] with God.
Kurt Francom: At least you’re communicating.
Bennett Borden: Right. And because the thing that I was so forestry was why? This is so blatantly unfair. I had a wonderful mission and had a very deep testimony. Absolutely knew the gospel be true. But yet this seemed being born as someone who’s gay and feeling the way that I did, and yet not being able to act on any of those feelings, to me just seemed like the most unfair cruel thing that someone could do. In that kind of dialogue that I had with God, [00:14:30] it’s interesting I actually went on what I call a religious walkabout. So I decided I was going to study really every religion I’d get my hands on. Eastern, Western, Wiccan, … I studied like everything.
Becky Borden: Native American.
Bennett Borden: Yeah Native American religion. Because I figured, somewhere in there man’s attempt to understand God that, even if it’s a poor reflection, there’s tunnels of truth in there somewhere. And so it was very interesting as I learned all about these different perspectives on God and our role in the world, it all kept going back to the gospel, [00:15:00] though. Right? And in the midst of that, I realized that, and this is kind of the gay community for me too and being in my relationship with my ex husband, that I had value. That I wasn’t a mistake, there’s nothing wrong with me, there’s nothing I wasn’t a mistake that God created beyond purpose. That meant that part of the bundle of characteristics that make me gay are part of God’s plan. And so I stopped rejecting myself and stopped being angry at myself. And started to realize that I was a precious child [00:15:30] of my father in heaven, regardless of what that meant. So I finally came into place where it’s okay. I know that gospel is true, but there is nothing I can do to live it. So I’m just going into this pause mode, I guess, for a while.
Kurt Francom: Yeah, the impression I’m getting is you just sort of set it on a shelf for a while and that maybe I’ll come back to this, maybe I won’t. But nonetheless I’m going this way, because I don’t know what else to do at this point. Right? Was it similar for you, Becky?
Becky Borden: Yeah, I would say I ended up in the same situation. I did [00:16:00] a very similar religious walkabout. But I also tried to join the Lutheran church and then I joined–
Kurt Francom: Was it NCC?
Becky Borden: No, UCC. United Church of Christ. I joined several different churches and enjoyed the people and enjoyed what I learned there. I was looking so hard to recreate what I had in the LDS church, thinking that I could find it if found enough kernels of truth, I could put them all together and have a ball popcorn. That’s really what I thought. But I learned that [00:16:30] there was too many missing. I wasn’t finding enough and the religions and the places where I was attending, there wasn’t enough God in it. God had been taken out of it and I didn’t find what I was looking for. But I realized that I wanted that and that was a surprise to me. But just like Bennett, I would say I had to put it in a jar and put it on a shelf underneath more information. Because if the church was true, then something had to be different about my life in order for me to be a part of it. I couldn’t see my way [00:17:00] clear to do that. I didn’t know how that would look. So I figured I just didn’t know yet. I’d figure it out whether it was this life or the next, and I had no expectation that it would be this one.
Kurt Francom: Yeah. And thinking on that. With hindsight we know that things work out and whatever it is and we’ll move on to that part of the story. But I’m just thinking of sometimes from a leader’s perspective, I remember many times an individual coming in with whether strong doubts or not necessarily experiencing same-sex attractions. [00:17:30] But something in their life that they just can’t understand how to put all the pieces together in framing it with the gospel. And so of course as a bishop, I would never say, “well maybe you should go on a religious walkabout.” Right? Have you thought of this? But nonetheless, I would sometimes congratulate them that ‘wow, isn’t that great that you’re thinking about things differently than many of the members of the church are right now?’ Right? But [00:18:00] without encouraging them like on the religious walkabout. So with hindsight, what can we learn from that as we see individuals that are maybe just– they can’t figure it all out right now. And so really the strong momentum of their situation is taking them down a path away from the church a while.
Bennett Borden: You know, that’s such a great perspective, because looking back now to where my life has gone, my experience away from the church, especially being in my relationship with my ex-husband [00:18:30] was vital to my salvation. I came from a really pretty abusive background, and my husband did as well. Us being together, that does stuff to you when you some from a situation like that as a child. We understood each other, like us being together actually was an incredibly healing experience. So many people, when they get concerned about their loved one or a child or a friend who [00:19:00] experiences same-sex attraction, has come out as in a relationship and they think this is a horrible thing. But I think we sometimes forget that every relationship -most relationships- have goodness in them. Right? Like when you’re with somebody, you learn wonderful things about how to be caring and kind and learn not to be selfish and how to put the toothpaste tube back on. Things like that that are the same with whether it’s a gay or straight relationship. So learning goodness and learning truth, no matter where you’re learning it, [00:19:30] is a gospel principle. There were tremendous things that I learned and healed from and gained over that experience. So looking back now, I see how the Lords is with me all the time. Like to help me learn the things that I needed to and to heal from things that I needed to heal from in order to allow me to approach the gospel in a more healthy and mature way later in my life.
Kurt Francom: And this is intriguing when you say that your relationship with Richard was vital [00:20:00] to your salvation. I don’t necessarily– thinking if you go back as like, this is the only option for me to progress, but you’re finding and you’re not lets say condoning that if I was to do it all over again, maybe I’d go that path? But mainly you’re just saying as individuals wander, we sometimes feel progression has stopped and it will not pick up again until they come back.
Bennett Borden: And that’s exactly that’s a faulty that Satan tries to convince you of why you’re away. But I think he tries to convince [00:20:30] our friends and families of that too.
Becky Borden: And our leaders.
Bennett Borden: Yeah. Because if we’re somehow lost, it’s as if nothing good happens while you’re lost. That’s just not true. The light and love of God shines everywhere. There were times in my relationship where I prayed very hard about it, and absolutely knew that the right thing for me at that time was to be in that relationship doing what I was doing. So that’s the thing I think we often forget is that we [00:21:00] no matter where you’re at in your life, God can reach for that places and there can be goodness and learning and growth that can happen. Even if there appear to be quote on quote lost.
Becky Borden: And I would say what’s interesting, I remember when I was 21, 20, and I had joined this Lutheran church and I really wasn’t sure about the Gospel anymore. I kind of got hold of a lot of anti-Mormon books and literature and the God makers and all kinds of stuff through this boy that I was dating. [00:22:00] I had been pretty sheltered as far as that stuff goes. I’ve never seen any of that before. And it shook me enough where I thought: I don’t know how I feel about the church. I don’t know if I believe it or I don’t believe it. I’m really on the fence. And because I’m not a fence sitter, I probably shouldn’t be a member until I’m sure I want to be a member. And so I had my bishop came to visit me during that time and drove hours down to eastern north Carolina where I was living to come talk to me and find out whether I was still living the Gospel. At the time [00:21:30] when they asked me what I would say about the Church to other people, if I were asked or what kind of religious life I was currently living, and I told them I joined this Lutheran church. They decided after that interview that it’s probably best for me not to be member of the church at this time. They excommunicated me and I thought ‘how do you get it out of our conversation. Honestly, how did he even come away with that. I was so glad that he followed his inspiration at that time. Because the journey I needed [00:22:30] to go on, it was better for me not to be under the covenants that I had made for me to do that. It’s an interesting thing for me to say at this point. Right? But I think that he was inspired to release me from those things so that I could go learn what I needed to learn. So that when I came back, it would be a completely different experience. I’m really grateful for that, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a leader to follow inspiration like that.
Kurt Francom: This is such an interesting concept, because of course every leader, if a bishop [00:23:00] sitting in his office, of course he is going to encourage to turn towards the scriptures, to prayer, to do those things. There’s definitely progress in those things as well. But there’s such a message of hope and grace when we’re able as, and that’s a strong leadership principle. Step back and see somebody go off and wander from our perspective and know that Christ still has them and that he’ll be constantly reaching out to them, constantly teaching them through their life experiences and in [00:23:30] hyperbolic Church stories and things, it’s like ‘no, you’re supposed to read your scriptures and them you come back. Through the ordinances, you progress. This is just have faith that God never forgets them. It’s not your job to chase them sometimes. Maybe that drive is important to have those communication. But sometimes just let them go and always let them know they’re welcome here, and know that Christ is still in their life and working with them.
Bennett Borden: Yeah, and you can have an incredible influence on people regardless of where they are. I think sometimes [00:24:00] when we see someone who is quote on quote lost. They’re out that we kind of close our influence to them. We don’t have them over to our house. We don’t go find out about heir lives. I find that that is–
Becky Borden: Exactly what the adversary wants.
Bennett Borden: Right. It’s the opposite of what we should be doing. Becky and I say because we are asked all the time, because obviously now, as the story will progress, we’re back in the church and we’re married to each other in a temple marriage. We had a lot of people [00:24:30] who were a great influence to us while we were out of the church, though. The thing that brought us back to the Gospel is being around people who had the spirit with them, and then going back to our lives that didn’t have that spirit with us. So many times, we see we talked to parents, we talked to especially parents, who’s kids are coming out and they cut off contact with them or they throw them out of their lives. That’s the opposite of what you should be doing. You can’t influence people you don’t have [00:25:00] access to. And so the people who had the biggest influence on us, especially in our family, were those who stayed in touch with our lives.
Becky Borden: And knew us, knew our partner’s names, knew what they did for a living, knew if they were up for a promotion. When their birthdays were.
Kurt Francom: You talk about the influence is so important and that influence through relationships, where you lay all the I’m gay thing on top as well, it becomes even more awkward like am I supposed to interact with their [00:25:30] gay partner, their spouse? Do we invite them over to dinner? Should they be in our family pictures? We sort of get caught up in these details, because there is such a culture about it that interferes that then it’s just easier to keep our space. As bishop, I think of a gay couple in my ward that we just sort of kept a mutual space of saying ‘okay, you don’t really want to talk to me, I don’t really know what to say to you, so let’s just not say anything.’ But then, it really minimized my influence there. [00:26:00] Or if I just moved forward with the intent of a relationship of a friendship and let it go from there, then it’s not up to me to know to say the right thing.
Becky Borden: Right, right.
Kurt Francom: So let’s pivot back, it’s a good discussion, we’ll touch on that as we go, but let’s pivot back to your story. Bennett, where do we go from there? You’re now in this gay relationship for 20 years. You get married. Your family is still in the church, so did that influence church stuff is still in your life from time to time. So what brought you back?
Bennett Borden: It’s interesting. A few years after [00:26:30] Richard and I were together, I did find this piece equilibrium in the Gospel that I felt really close to God, I read my scriptures. I really did, as we talked about just kind of put it on a shelf. What do I do? Especially because I really did feel like I was where I was supposed to be. But I missed the Gospel. Especially having been on down, having gone on a mission. Like Becky’s, you’re going to other Churches. There wasn’t another community there wasn’t a spirit there. Over time, that [00:27:00] weighed on me. I kept trying to pursue happiness and so I went to Law School. I became a big successful partner at a big law firm. Richard and I were together. We were a very successful power couple in DC. We had lots of friends. WE had nice cars. I had all the things. And kept thinking if I just this or if I just that, than I’ll be happy. But then I got all those things and I still wasn’t happy. So this was in my early 40’s at this point, where I really took a look [00:27:30] at my life and thought “if I die today, I would be disappointed with my life. “that regardless of all I had achieved and where I was at in my life, I had this deep aching and longing for the Gospel. So interestingly, when that started to come about and it was interesting, because even in my relationship it was kind of clear that it was coming to an end. This was I guess 5 years ago.
Kurt Francom: Your relationship was coming to an end?
Bennett Borden: With Richard, yeah. [00:28:00] It allowed me to reevaluate my life. That’s a really interesting point, that what was going on in Becky’s and my life at that point. But throughout that period when I was trying to put my life back together and seek out the church, it was really interesting to see what the Lord had done in both Becky’s and my life at that point.
Kurt Francom: So Becky, where were you at during this process? I’m sure during these 20 years, you communicated? You’ve openly been living in [00:28:30] gay relationships?
Becky Borden: Yeah. I knew Richard. And I was at their wedding
Kurt Francom: As a… Not a bridesmaid?
Becky Borden: Not a bridesmaid this time, no. Just as family, because none of his other family was there. One of my younger sisters and I went and represented his family at this wedding in D.C. At that point, I had been in many different relationships. Some truly wonderful women that I love very dearly. I even married one of them [00:29:00] in just a civil ceremony. It was illegal. It was before it was legal. And Bennett was at that wedding. He came to my wedding. So we’re just learning and growing. It was just a time of just learning and growing. I remember there were many times that I’d have these incredibly lucid moments when I had way too much red wine and I would go to churches through call my mom drunk, I would call my mom and …
Kurt Francom: And bury your testimony in drunkenly
Becky Borden: “The Church is true, mom, because [00:29:30] I know!” She’s like “can we talk about this tomorrow?” And I was “No, we can never talk about this again.” And to her credit, she never held it over me. So it was interesting and adding up all those little moments over time where I would on my birthday every year I would talk to God. That was my one conversation a year. I really adding up all those moments of conversations was like yeah, there’s something I’m missing. But I am who I am, so I still don’t [00:30:00] know how that’s going to figure itself out. I remember at the end of one of my relationships, before my last one, I said ‘okay, God if I’m really supposed to go back to the church, then stop putting women in front of me that I’m not supposed to be with.’ Because just like Bennett, I prayed over ‘am I supposed to be in this relationship? Am I supposed to be with this person? And I will get these yeah, this is really supposed to be right now, this is what you supposed to be doing. You need to learn something from this person and they do from you. And so [00:30:30] I said okay God, If I’m going to be able to come back, stop putting people in front of me. And so after my last relationship was ending, I was devastated by it. It was a very long but wonderful relationship. I truly loved this woman with all my heart. It was very hard for me, but I said okay, maybe I need to consider other things. That kind of brings us [00:31:00] to 5 years ago.
Kurt Francom: Let me ask you, during your 20 or so years, was there ever a bishop, elders [inaudible] present that reached out of was bald enough to knock at your door? And sounds like you didn’t need that or want that, but maybe it did.
Bennett Borden: You know, with me, it was interesting, most of the influence was with some of my family, especially one of my brothers, Bob who is close to be an agent, closest to me. And he had an immense impact on me. [00:31:30] There was a bishop who was tremendous. This was when I was living in DC and Richard an I had been together for 5 years I guess. I was particularly longing to kind of have an interaction with the church and so I actually attended a ward. I found a ward and went one Sunday and this bishop says hello as he did. And he asked, we kind of got to know each other. Becky’s family, her mother lived in [00:32:00] the suburb of DC with some of Becky’s siblings. It was their bishop, it turned out to be. He and I developed a very close relationship over the next 4 or 5 months and really kind of talked about where I was at and what I wanted. I expressed to him this pain that I felt about wanting to be in the church, but really feeling like one, my nature would make it impossible, but also that I was in this really wonderful relationship. That’s actually when I [00:32:30] went through the disciplinary process with this wonderfully loving bishop. And equally loving stake president. It was interesting at that point, they took me through a process when I was excommunicated.
Kurt Francom: How long into your relationship with Richard was this?
Bennett Borden: Like 5 or 6 years.
Kurt Francom: Okay. You weren’t even half way through that relationship?
Bennett Borden: No. It turned out to be a truly loving experience. And interestingly, [00:33:00] when they excommunicated me, it really was a very kind experience. I didn’t find this out until I came to church, when my blessings were restored, they of course have the transcript of my original church council. My then current stake president who restored my blessing, said to me they were so torn over what to do with me, because I was so sincere and truly loved [00:33:30] the Lord. And yet they felt like one, I needed to be released from my covenant because I didn’t want to leave my relationship with Richard. But also, they said very prophetically that when I came back, I needed to have a clean start. In order to feel like I had truly been forgiven.
Becky Borden: Truly been forgiven, yeah.
Bennett Borden: That I needed to be re-baptized, more for me than for the Lord. [00:34:00] I found that was very true, when it happened.
Kurt Francom: And so you weren’t at your disciplinary council when it happened?
Bennett Borden: I was.
Kurt Francom: Oh, you were there. Okay. But they were just reviewing the notes and things?
Bennett Borden: Yes
Kurt Francom: the way you say that, they felt it was important you were released from your covenants? And that to me has such the spirit of the disciplinary councils I’ve been involved with as a leader. The really good ones, if it’s downright in my opinion, it never feels like this punishment. [00:34:30] We’re here to meet today to figure out how to punish this person for doing what they did. But it’s all out of love and repeating that, I don’t know, I’m sure there is doctrine that is beyond my understanding. But excommunicating someone in order to release them from their covenants, not to ex-communicate them. Let’s remove the burden of these promises he’s made, until he’s ready to come back. Then we can start from a fresh slate and that’s the grace of Jesus Christ.
Becky Borden: Yeah, that’s the atonement. [00:35:00]
Bennett Borden: That’s what was so powerful. That beautiful memory of this bishop and stake presidency, the high council and that kindness that I felt. Frankly their encouragement. Their encouragement to find my path and sort this out and God would be with me, and God loved me. Made it easier when I came back, because I never had any kind of disjointedness or had a jarring or bitterness about the process. [00:35:30] I truly felt loved throughout that process.
Kurt Francom: that’s awesome. And so, where would you say, when it really got serious. You two get met up. And it was sort of together you made this decision of: why don’t you be my team mate as we are both going back to church, and this is before there is any necessary romantic feelings happening.
Bennett Borden: Well before, well before.
Kurt Francom: It was more of a brother, sister relationship.
Becky Borden: It was, it’s funny. [00:36:00] The day that my relationship ended, and I was truly heartbroken, didn’t want to tell my family yet, because they would want to know too many details and I wasn’t ready to talk. The only thing I really could do was sent an instant message to Bennett. I said: my partner and I just broke up. And it was really sad and so. I sent him a little note, hit sent and a chat window popped up on his computer and he [00:36:30] instantly started typing back. I thought, wow, he is online, what are the chances. And he’s like: yeah, it’s funny, Richard and I just broke up too, like just now.
Kurt Francom: And then he said, “you want to get married?”
Bennett Borden: It was perfect. That’s what started, because Becky and I were very close. Becky knew things about that you don’t ever even tell your spouse. We were that friend. We had stayed very close, as with the rest of the family, for all that amount of time. As both of our very long-term [00:37:00] very serious relationships, mine, I was married. I was going to have to go through a divorce and things like that. But it really gave us time to figure out what are we going to do with our lives. We had a conversation, this was in the summer when this all happened, that prior Christmas, she and I had talked extensively for quite some time about having a family together. Her and her partner and Richard and I actually having a family [00:37:30] together in some kind of modern family thing.
Becky Borden: Because we were like, we are both getting older and we always wanted to have kids. But we’ve never been able to, so the four of us should get together and have a family. We talked for months about how we would do this. We really talked often for months in order to figure out whether this was the right thing and how we were going to raise them and would one of us move and would we live together and what kind of school would we send them to.
Bennett Borden: It was a whole new kind of compound.
Becky Borden: it was a whole new kind of compound. But we really wanted to talk about the [00:38:00] details, because we took it very seriously. If we would bring into this world, what would their lives be like? In all of those discussions in 2011, we really came to the conclusion that we’d want to raise them in the church.
Kurt Francom: That’s interesting I guess.
Becky Borden: Right. Because both of us had had wonderful experiences being raised LDS. We were really not sure how we would pull that off. We’d figure we could drop them off for primary [00:38:30] and be like see you in 3 hours. We going to go with them and how would that be? We couldn’t fathom it. Ultimately we decided it wasn’t the right thing for us to have kids. We didn’t think either one of our relationships were in a position where they could handle that. And blow up the whole six months later, they weren’t. But at the time, we knew it probably wasn’t the right thing for us to do. But is was through those discussions in considering our future children that we were willing to say out loud that [00:39:00] the Gospel was true.
Bennett Borden: Yeah. And how we would put our lives together. It was so interesting as we talked about, we knew we were really really good friends. But also we talked about what our philosophy on life and find answers and so it was very clear that we would be what we wanted out of our live, that we would be compatible there. What was more interesting that it put us in a self-evaluative place. Like what do you want out of your life. [00:39:30] We both had this sense of dis-ease. We weren’t satisfied with our lives. So it laid a lot of ground for now 6 months later when both of our relationship ended, I started thinking a lot about what now, what? So I was 42 at the time. Again, I had this big [inaudible] partner law firm.
Becky Borden: 45.
Bennett Borden: Can’t be.
Becky Borden: Come on.
Bennett Borden: But something, anyway. [00:40:00] But it really put me in this mindset of I really wanted to come back to church and I got to the point where, and that’s truly what my focus was on at first, was Becky and I were talking through kind of misery through the end of our relationships. Part of this was, what do we want out of our lives next. And we both started talking about going back to church. And it was really a secondary idea, well if we come back are we gonna be all alone. And that’s where this idea of could we come back together [00:40:30], not as together together, but could we both simultaneously come back to church.
Becky Borden: So that we had someone to talk to about it.
Kurt Francom: Somebody to sit next to in church?
Becky Borden: Well no, because I lived here and he was in DC.
Kurt Francom: Oh, so you were stakes apart
Becky Borden: So I was in Salt Lake City and he was in DC.
Kurt Francom: Gotcha.
Becky Borden: I had moved here with my ex in a cold twist of faith. And it was living here in Salt Lake with my partner so yeah, we were long ways apart. So we really we just called each other every day. It was really, how are you doing today, are you surviving, [00:41:00] and what time is it, how many vodkas have you had at noon. So you know, there was a lot of that. We were commiserating with each other. But keeping each other sane I think during that part too. Somebody that we could really talk to about the situation. Because we both had the same background. Because we both believed that the Lord was in there somewhere. And we could find him. So it was incredibly good for our friendship to go through that at the same time. But that meant that when we [00:41:30] did talk about what it would look like if we came back and what are all of our fears about coming back. All those emails and phone conversations really helped to lay bare all of the things that were churning in our hearts and minds. And so it was more manner to go on when we could see it on paper so to speak. Or talk about it out loud. And we had talked about coming back. We didn’t know how to do that or when to do that. We had a family reunion [00:42:00] coming up in October of that year. I had a family reunion and Bennett was planning on coming anyway. So we knew we would see each other at the beach in that October in 2012. And we decided that we would talk there and kind of see how we felt about the church and whether we were really wanted to go on this journey together. But that’s when we started talking about…
Bennett Borden: Coming back together
Becky Borden: Yeah
Bennett Borden: Because we knew we were friends. We loved each other deeply [00:42:30] and I remember one time several hours in on the phone was with Becky going: You know, what if there is something to this timing. Because we joked about we should get married
Becky Borden: Yeah, but it was always like ‘hahaha’. Because you know, he’s like my brother, he’s my best friend. And I thought that who would do.
Bennett Borden: Plus she was a girl, does it make problems.
Becky Borden: And he was a boy, and boys are disgusting. So yeah.
Bennett Borden: And we joked about this. We were turning our lives over to God at this point, [00:43:00] because there were several things going on at once. One was: I gave up trying to figure how I would come back and I just wanted to come back. I was starting to read the book of Mormon and I got to Alma 32 where he talks about to have faith as it is a seer.
Kurt Francom: Even if you have a desire to believe.
Bennett Borden: And I remember getting down on my knees and saying: all right, I have no idea how. I don’t, but all I know is I have the desire to believe that I can come back and have a [00:43:30] happy life in the gospel. And really from that moment things really started to change for me. And I remember calling Becky one time and saying: What if there is something to this timing. Isn’t it interesting that we are both broken up at the same time, we’re both considering going back to church. We’re both terrified that we were going to end up old lonely spinsters for the rest of our lives. What if there is something to this? Maybe we should do this together and we can have a life together.
Kurt Francom: And I just want to [00:44:00] underscore something you said, because I was going to ask when you made this shift of like, “Okay, I’m really going to do it now. I think I’m serious about going back to church.” How do you reconcile those thoughts and that motivation with, yeah but I’m gay.
Becky Borden: So that second part, if you start going “okay no matter what.”
Kurt Francom: Yeah. And how you just sort of gave it up to the lord saying “I don’t know how it works, I don’t know how the math works, I don’t know how the emotions work, but I’m going back. And so I’m going to need your help and that’s sort of why I came.” You really did turn it over to him. [00:44:30]
Bennett Borden: Absolutely.
Becky Borden: We decided that all– We started thinking about the Church in very very basic terms. Either it’s true or it’s not. And if it is, then everything about it is true. All the promises and the scriptures. All of it is true. So we decided and Bennett said to me one day on the phone. Because we agreed to starting to read the scriptures and he said “okay, let’s read the scriptures under the assumption that it is all true.” And I’d never [00:45:00] done that before. I‘d always read them with a skeptic’s eye, with a skeptical heart.
Bennett Borden: How did he choose this? Why did he write that?
Becky Borden: So it really is truly different when you come at it from a perspective of ‘I’m going to assume that it’s all true.’
Kurt Francom: What great counsel a leader could give somebody’s saying. Just as an exercise as you read, just read it from the same point of assuming, Let’s assume that it’s true.
Becky Borden: Right.
Kurt Francom: And read from that point.
Becky Borden: And so when we did that. Then when you come up on all the promises and the scriptures about how the lord is going [00:45:30] to be there and he is going to help you and if he has said that these things are important and you try to do those things and he will be there to help you achieve those things. Then it really is an equation. If I do this, he will do this. And if I do this, he will do this. And I can expect it. I can expect it to the point where I don’t have to wonder if he’s going to do it.
Bennett Borden: And the future became irrelevant. Like the thing that we have learned is that the way that the adversary keeps you from progressing as we call it ‘the what-if hamster wheel’. Well what about this, [00:46:00] well how I’m a going to do that, what’s going to happen about this? How are you going to do that? All those questions about the future.
Kurt Francom: And there is a lot.
Bennett Borden: And there are!
Becky Borden: The adversary can create them faster than they can get answered.
Bennett Borden: And so finally it got to a point where I had enough faith in God, but I simply said, I don’t care. I don’t care, I don’t have to have those answers. All I need, because we have these wonderful journals we kept through this whole process and there was this [00:46:30] where I was praying to god. Again, I was married, so I’m like ‘I’ve got to get out of my– How am I going to get divorced, how am I going to get my blessings back? All these things. And the Lord kind of just said, ‘ssshhhh’, you know. I remember him saying to me in my mind as a kind of like that scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants that says it will be still upon your mind like the do’s that [inaudible]
Kurt Francom: 121, yeah.
Bennett Borden: So we’ve got the whole focus on your feet [00:47:00] that all I have to do today is take the step the size of a dewdrop. Only thing I can control is what is going on right in front of me today. So get up, read your scriptures, say your prayers, feed yourself, put some cloths on, go to work and let all of the trouble of tomorrow fall away. And then it became doable, this idea of going back to Church.
Becky Borden: And so when we were at the beach.
Bennett Borden: The family reunion.
Becky Borden: In that family reunion. It was funny, because when Bennett said to me on the phone that day, what if there is something more to this timing between you and I. [00:47:30] And I think I laughed out loud at the time, probably sarcastically, with my vodka in my hand and my cigarette. And I thought to myself, it really wasn’t me, it was a spirit, it was a knife through the top of my head, well of course there is more to this timing. Of course there is. And I thought, oh, and I think I was shell-shocked for the next several days considering that I just got to direct revelation to my life that yes there was something [00:48:00] more to this. Not only that, and I love how the Lord communicates with you through the spirit, that it’s a fully formed thought. It is not even a linear scent, it’s a fully formed thing that just plops down in your mind. So it wasn’t only, of course there is more to this, but whatever it is that you need to do to get yourself ready so you can be with this person for eternity is what you must do with great haste without looking back. You must do this immediately. And I was shell-shocked. Truly. So we got to the beach and we saw each other [00:48:30] for the first time when he got there after we did and we knew the moment that we saw each other, the absolute moment, that this was all there was. And …
Kurt Francom: So it was love at the millionth sight.
Becky Borden: Kind of yeah.
Bennett Borden: Terrifying, right, because now we were at the point, okay, well, getting over all the fears and anxiety about going back to church, because then we have to wear the right clothes, we have to show up, people are going to talk about us. All the fears and everything you have because for some reason the idea of going to church when you are kind of on the outside is like the [00:49:00] scariest you have ever done in your life. You think you are going to be 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide. And everybody is going to see you and you have a giant–
Bennett Borden: Pink triangle.
Becky Borden: Queer thing on your forehead and neon.
Bennett Borden: And so despite all that, and personally getting my life in order to come back to church, but now there is this added layer of this wonderful excitement of being with my best friend and yet all the terror of being married in a heterosexual relationship and all those things. So we had these [00:49:30] storms of anxiety and terror about how could this possibly work out. But in the midst of all of it there was this utter peace.
Becky Borden: Truly.
Bennett Borden: we decided we were at the beach together for three days and stayed up all night every night talking like for 8 or 9 hours about what we would do and how. All our fears and anxieties and how we would move through those but we decided the one thing we did, is we got a hold of my brother, Bob, and have gave us his, he looked up and found the bishops [00:50:00] phone numbers and email addresses for both of our bishops in Salt Lake and in DC for me.
Becky Borden: because we had no idea who they were
Bennett Borden: How would we found that out
Becky Borden: How would we know that.
Bennett Borden: So we made the commitment while we were there that we would reach out for a first appointment. We did. It was interesting I will tell you those stories. It was being able to be together for those days and feel the witness of the spirit and also that peace despite the raging storm of unknown, that taking that step [00:50:30] of calling our bishops was a monumental step.
Kurt Francom: So where did it go from there? Did you both go together?
Becky Borden: No, cause I came back here to Salt Lake and Bennett went home to DC, so we both called our bishops that last day and made appointments. Because we committed that we would. And then we actually had to keep the appointments, which was much far worse than calling to make the appointment. So the first time I went, I was in the capital help first ward. I was living upon Second North. [00:51:00] My bishop, Bishop Garbet, bless his heart. I came in and it was a Tuesday night. I was petrified of going in. I had a lot to drink.
Bennett Borden: To ease your nerves a little.
Becky Borden: So I was very drunk by the time I got in his office. Bless his heart. But he listened to me say everything I had to say. The first thing out of his mouth was “welcome back”. We love you so much and I’m so glad you’re here. It’s going to be okay. [00:51:30] And he didn’t have anything to tell me to do. He just said ‘let’s talk again. Can you come back next week? You think you want to come on Sunday? Because I love to tell the Relief Society president about you and make sure you have somebody to sit next to. He is a very soft spoken, a very kind man. He’s very shy, didn’t have a whole lot to say. But he wanted to hear whatever it was I had to say. I asked him for a priested blessing which he gave me, and he said ‘I’d love to send my counselors [00:52:00] over to dedicate your house if you’d like that’. Which was perfect. So they came over like the next day to dedicate my house, my tiny little apartment that I was living in. And introduced me to my next-door neighbor, who was the former stake president. They had me over to dinner. The moment I walked in on Sunday morning to Relief society, which is the first time I had ever been to Relief society. I’d never been as a kid, because I left before I was old enough. The relief society president [00:52:30] Jane Myman said: Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to see you. She put her arm around me and gave me a big hug and said “come, sit right here. This is where I’m sitting” I could not have been more accepted and loved and welcomed. It didn’t matter to them what my circumstances were. That was the biggest deal. It didn’t matter that I was wearing pants. None of it mattered, it was just the fact that I was there. I did, I went every week to talk to Bishop Garnet and called Bennett right afterwards. We talked about all these appointments. His situation was equally [00:53:00] I think as wonderful.
Kurt Francom: I appreciate these little things you mention where Bishop Garnet it’s not that you came in and they just said the perfect thing. Because we get in the trappers leaders that our role is to say the perfect thing, to share the perfect scripture. The pressure is on us. It’s so easy to just sit and listen in that office and then say something as simple as welcome back. What’s the next step for you? What would you feel comfortable with? SO Bennett, what was–?
Bennett Borden: Yeah, mine was very similar. I was living right outside of DC in Arlington [00:53:30] and called my bishop and went in again on a Tuesday and met with him. Again, this is a long story. Here I’m a married gay guy, explaining my whole life of wanting to come back. He looked like he was about seventeen.
Becky Borden: I think he was 31.
Bennett Borden: He was. But he looked like–
Becky Borden: What’s even better than that, he had been called his bishop 2 weeks before this.
Kurt Francom: Oh, so he was fully prepared?
Becky Borden: He was fully prepared.
Bennett Borden: Fully prepared. He could not have been kinder, [00:54:00] even when I’m talking about like I’m telling this long sort of tale. He was very kind even as he listened to me. Suddenly he said to me “I’m so glad you’re here, welcome back”. And he said, “I don’t know, there’s a lot of steps here. Let’s go through them together.” The next day, 2 home teachers came to my house, who are still very dear friends of ours. We had lots of opportunities. Again, Bishop [name] didn’t say anything terribly profound, except I [00:54:30] love you and welcome back and we’re so glad you’re here. And let’s just take this step by step. Let’s just figure this out together. Let’s see what comes next. Can you come to Church on Sunday? Bishop [name] was brilliant, because my whole life was changing. I was getting divorced. Richard and I were a very well known couple in DC. I was having to change my whole life. So everything was in an uproar and having fairly often contact with the Church, I couldn’t hold the calling, I couldn’t [00:55:00] do anything. So he put me on the building cleanup committee. One of the early things Becky and I did–
Becky Borden: After I moved to DC. I moved to DC a few months later.
Bennett Borden: He put us in charge of like inventorying the library. This stuff, but it was fun.
Kurt Francom: Luckily you had a lot of [inaudible]
Becky Borden: We asked, “what can we do? How can we be involved? Because we can’t hold callings, we can’t say prayers, we can’t do anything. Because we’re not going to be baptized for months and months and months.” [00:55:30] It was wonderful to be able to be of service and blesses, he send the missionaries. We had several sets of ward of missionaries. There were missionaries in our house like every other days. I think him called him and said that you should stop at the ordnance today. They did all the time. It was great, because we put our wine away. It was wonderful, because they brought the spirit into our home. That was the thing.
Bennett Borden: The whole key to this all was ˜Becky and I, as we started to come back, [00:56:00] because she still lived in Salt Lake for at least the first many months, It was so important to keep the spirit, because the raging.
Becky Borden: The adversary was raging.
Bennett Borden: How can you do this? This is stupid? How are you ever going to be happy? You are going to be miserable for the rest of your life. How are you going to go through this?
Becky Borden: It was a bit scary how angry the adversary was. He was after us so hard. I remember days of just abject fear and vibrating. I was so scared, because he was turning up in me all the awful stuff that he could possibly come up with. It was hard. [00:56:30] It was hard work.
Bennett Borden: So being able to focus down and focus on your feet. That became our mantra: focus on your feet. Just take one more step and make one more choice.
Becky Borden: But I think our bishops and our stake president in DC were just remarkable in their kindness and love and openness and not judgmental and not asking too many prime questions. They were just happy for us to share whatever it was we needed to share at that point. And when we asked about the next step, they were like “I don’t know. Let’s figure that out.” [00:57:00] It became something that we did with them as opposed to a process we were a victim of.
Kurt Francom: Yeah. So this time, you’re both living–
Becky Borden: I moved to DC few weeks before we got married in 2013.
Kurt Francom: Okay. So marriage was on the schedule?
Becky Borden: Oh yeah. As soon as his divorce to Richard was final, we got engaged. And that was in February of 2013. And we were married on June, 1st 2013. So in a civil wedding at the ward building. [00:57:30] Our bishop married us at the ward building at DC, or in Arlington. So yeah, I had moved out there.
Kurt Francom: So what I’m hearing is obviously as well was open welcoming you back, trying to figure it out with you. That’s such a vulnerable spot to be as a leader. But a good spot. I’m just saying, I just got put in this calling too. I don’t know. So let’s learn together. That’s okay.
Becky Borden: That bides the spirit in. The spirit is the leading.
Kurt Francom: And then, really the ward making an effort to [00:58:00] find a place for you to serve.
Bennett Borden: Tremendously, and really caring leaders all around. I attended the high priest, which isn’t it, because I was an elder.
Becky Borden: That was a big deal. Bennett said “it would be really hard for me to attend the elder’s forum, because these are young handsome men.”
Bennett Borden: Who were 20 years younger than me, too. So it was not like we had a lot in common.
Becky Borden: But the fact that they were all so… When for somebody coming back, it may be hard. So it was easier for him to say. So the bishop [00:58:30] said, why don’t you intend high priest. That was so much easier on Bennett during that transition period. So much easier.
Kurt Francom: That’s great. So there’s an interesting twist. I call it a twist, but a happy story that that parallels yours and involves Richard? Tell us a little about that.
Bennett Borden: I loved and love Richard very much. Becky knows him. I’ve been known him my whole marriage. He was very close to us. So when our marriage fell apart, [00:59:00] I tried very hard to leave that relationship with kindness and love and charity. Because after those things are not that way, and yet we had spent 20 years together, spent so much healing and love with each other. So when that relationship ended, it was really important to me to do it in a kind way. He knew really fairly immediately that I was going back to church. He was very supportive, because he was close to my family. He was all my Mormon brothers and their wives [00:59:30] and kids and my parents. So he had been around the Church for years. So he was very supportive of me going back to Church. It’s interesting, when Becky and I got married, we started to have a family reunion together. And Richard would come over more often. He came over one Monday and we were like “oh, started our family evening. “ So that just started it. He happened to come over the next Monday. So I was teaching the first lesson and Becky was teaching the second. Becky turns to him–
Becky Borden: It was a plan of salvation and I’d done it, I knew he was coming. So I did it on giant post it notes, [01:00:00] like drawing the whole thing down. He’s like: can I take that home? He had never seen anything like it. He said “that’s fantastic” I need to take that home and put it on my door so I can look at it and understand it. I said “great, because next Monday it’s your turn.” Because Bennett did the first one, and I did the second one. So now it’s yours. What do I do? And I said “Well, look to the back of the scriptures, pick a topic, look up all the scriptures you can find about it, think about it, pray about it, and tell us what you feel. He was like “I can do that!” So he did. [01:00:30] He did. Went home, did the whole thing came back, taught us a lesson on–
Bennett Borden: The Holy Ghost.
Becky Borden: The Holy Ghost.
Kurt Francom: Wow.
Becky Borden: Or humility it was something wonderful. It was just a wonderful experience.
Bennett Borden: It was interesting, because we were in DC only for about a year. When we moved out here to Salt Lake, Richard kept visiting the Church, actually took the missionary lessons and was baptized a couple years ago now. And then just last year, I had the great blessing [01:01:00] of actually being able to go and ordain Richard as an elder.
Kurt Francom: That’s incredible. I love that story. There’s so many just these tender mercies throughout your experience. At the same time recognizing the tactics of the adversary and the fear and the what if’s that he’s putting in your mind. And to see as other lives are blessed as well like Richard’s and see him.
Bennett Borden: And that’s what’s so important to keep in mind, Kurt. Looking at the end, looking at mine and Becky’s and even Richard’s life [01:01:30] now when Becky and I are endowed and have an eternal marriage and Richard is a priested holder. It took 25 years of wrangling and wandering to get us to be able to be at this place. We look back and see all the twists and turns of our lives that made it possible for us to be happy and healthy in the Gospel.
Becky Borden: If we hadn’t had that secluded path, we wouldn’t be where we are now. [01:02:00] So many family and friends and leaders forget that part. That sometimes, when you’re talking to that 22-24-26 years old kid, they’re like “oh, but you can do this” I know people that have done as well. Sure, but their experience was different. And sometimes you have to go through the journey in order to arrive at the destination.
Kurt Francom: It’s not that you’re saying we found a model that works. So here’s the model, go give this to your wayward son or daughter and it will work. You’re just recognizing [01:02:30] the value of your journey, the progress happening outside of the Gospel. Quote on Quote. During your keynote at North Star, Bennett, you mentioned something about– I don’t know if it was a parent that asked you, a parent of a gay child saying “how do I pray for my son or daughter who is living a gay lifestyle? Do I pray that they are happy? Do I pray that they come back?”
Becky Borden: What do I pray for?
Kurt Francom: Expand on that.
Bennett Borden: This is more one of the things that have been so joyous for Becky and I, is being able to know people who [01:03:00] have same sex attraction, their families, their leaders, their friends and being able to talk about what is so important to us. What changed our lives and one of this we met a mom whose son who was in his late teens and coming out and she was literally heart breaking asked us what do I pray for?
We said: well, you pray that you can have an influence on him that he will have the experiences that he needs for his salvation, just like anybody else.
Becky Borden: Whatever you pray for for your other children. Same, same. [01:03:30]
Bennett Borden: And then be there. The thing that has the most influence, like I look back on my family, some of whom were very accepting, and some of whom who simply weren’t. And the ones who were not, just had no influence in my life at all. And yet my brother Bob who I love very dearly, had me and Richard at their house all the time for thanksgiving and Christmas and we were there, we were close to them like family should be. They cared about my life and Richards life and what we were doing. It was that that [01:04:00] allowed them to influence us. I think the same with Becky’s family.
Becky Borden: Yeah, I would say that. And I think some of the things that my mom probably prayed for over the years, not just that I would have the experiences that I needed for my salvation wherever I was in my life. But also, that she would know what to say. That she would know how to bring the spirit that she would know when and what to offer to me. And praying for that guidance as parents and friends and leaders pray for that guidance to [01:04:30] recognize us opportunities when they come, but that they are also praying that they can have the spirit with them all the time. Because it was the spirit with my mother that made an influence on me. And with my sisters. The times that I spent in their homes where the spirit was present, that was the most important part. Is that they were praying for the insight and understanding and influence of the spirit in their lives.
Bennett Borden: And when we say touched by the spirit, we don’t mean that we sat down to family reading with these people. Like one of my brothers who I truly love [01:05:00] and who is my most Mormon of all brothers.
Kurt Francom: We all got one.
Bennett Borden: He truly loved me, but really felt like he had to tell me that my life wasn’t right. Like he couldn’t condone it certainly so therefor he wouldn’t do anything with me. I wasn’t invited to his home because he didn’t want to condone my lifestyle. But then he never failed to take the opportunity to tell me that wickedness never was happiness. Finally, I blew up at him one tine. And I’m like, that does no good. [01:05:30] What possible good does that do me? It’s like telling a drowning person: don’t drown, drowning is not good for you. You shouldn’t breath that water. It’s not good for you. It’s useless, it doesn’t do anything.
Becky Borden: Hop in the water.
Bennett Borden: Go to where you are.
Becky Borden: And that’s what it is: It’s go to where you are. My sister and my mother invited me over, but they never said about dumping my partner, or don’t bring any wine in this house. I know you are coming for Christmas with your partner but you guys can’t share a room or you can’t be affectionate in front of the [01:06:00] kids, we don’t want to have to explain it. They never said any of those things. When I had wine in the house, and the kids were like what’s that, oh, that’s wine. We don’t drink wine, that’s right, we don’t.
Bennett Borden: But we love Becky.
Becky Borden: But we love aunt Becky, we are glad she is here. There was no discussion around it because that’s okay, they honored my agency. That is something Aly Ison said in her keynote at North Star. She talked about her child’s agency. And when her child was dying from some very significant genetic disease I think or something like that. [01:06:30] That is the thing that I have learned most in this, is that through our journeys the people that honored our agency and loved us at the same time, those are the people that have access and influence on us.
Bennett Borden: And ultimately that was the source or influence of our conversion.
Becky Borden: Right.
Bennett Borden: Because like I said, after I tried everything, success, good partner, all these things I still wasn’t happy. But I would walk in their homes where they were doing, like one of the best experiences I ever had, [01:07:00] was, we went to Becky’s sisters house and they had little kids and they just finished reading the book of Mormon for the first time. It took them about three years. And they had a book of Mormon party where you wrapped a towel around your head.
Becky Borden: all dress up as your favorite character.
Bennett Borden: And you dressed up as your favorite character
Becky Borden: And you told her story
Bennett Borden: And it was one of the most poignant beautiful things to see this little family and the love they shared, the spirit that was in their home and then I walked out of that room and went back to my opulent Mercedes, our money suits, life that was dark and dank [01:07:30] and empty. They never said a word to me. Never tried to teach me anything. It was simply being around them.
Kurt Francom: And it’s not that they planned like let’s have our book of Mormon party right before Bennett comes in. They just lived their life and you washed through that spirit.
Becky Borden: They were like, come on over we are having a book of Mormon party, if you want to be here. We were like, sure whatever.
Kurt Francom: Just to close it up here. Maybe one more question. What would you say, I know you are more and more involved with North Star. Maybe what’s the ask there. What do we need to know [01:08:00] about North Star. I’ve talked about it a lot on the podcast before. What’s your involvement there. And how could leaders leverage it and use it to understand these situations better.
Bennett Borden: We’ve been really touched by, we really didn’t know North Star when we were out in DC like when we first came back to the church. And Becky and I spoke at a conference that was being held out in DC and we were then introduced to some people at North Star. And it is really a beautiful organization. The whole purpose of the organization is to help [01:08:30] people who experience such attraction, the LGBTU community who are Mormon try to keep their covenants their whole mission is to help you develop a relationship with God and with your community and your family and your leaders. And so it’s a wonderful resource at NorthStarLDS.org that has wonderful resources for those of us in the community but also our leaders and families and it’s been, as we got to know them, we have been so touched by the work that they do and even in our own [01:09:00] lives the point where we have now gotten kind of officially involved and so Becky and I have the last few last week have gotten involved with the board and the executive community of North Star.
Kurt Francom: That’s great. And just in closing, kind of last question I have, what would you say to aid those out there that. Maybe they are a few years back in the process and they are filling this need, this emptiness, they want to come back, there’s a lot of what if’s. Maybe they are going to a leader and he doesn’t know what to say to them. What would be your message to [01:09:30] those individuals, whether it is they are experiencing same sex attraction or not that are just paralyzed by the what ifs and the adversary coming at them.
Becky Borden: You know it is interesting, I was reading recently, that one of the, I think Kelder Holand said, one of the most disobeyed commandments of the lord is fear not. And worry not. And we spend so much of our lives fearing and worrying about anything and everything. But the lord has said over and over [01:10:00] fear not and worry not. And that is one of the things that I think we have truly learned in this journey. The lord is truly on our side. And all the things he has said that are important for us to do and important for us to pay attention to. He will be there to help us achieve those things. The speed of which will be perfectly suited to what we need. And the biggest thing that we learned and the biggest thing that I would say is focus on your feet. Do what is in front of you. [01:10:30] The rest of it doesn’t matter yet. Those choices are not before you yet. So all the things you may be worrying about or may be fearing that will come or not come to you in the future, you have no idea what the lord’s going to pull off. We had no idea what the lord was going to pull off. If you would have told us this four years ago, we would have laughed at you, or five years ago. You have no idea what is going to happen. And you, assuming that you do know what is going to happen, [01:11:00] and that you are going to predict what the lord is going to be able to do or not do for you, it isn’t wise. You are as little children and cannot understand all things.
Bennett Borden: And that’s really, when I got to the point where, especially on my own personal journey, I stopped trying to predict the future and worry about it. Because so many of our gay friends in the church, people who are trying to come back, they think, look I got two options here. I can act on my feelings and be in a gay relationship and feel like I got some emotional connection and be out of the church. [01:11:30] Or I can keep my covenant and stay in the church and be lonely and die of a horrible lonely death. Basically.
Becky Borden: Everybody thinks those are your two options.
Bennett Borden: And that’s just not true.
Becky Borden: It’s like white knuckling it.
Bennett Borden: It’s not. One, You have no idea what the lord can do. You have no idea what the lord can do. And like Becky said, the thought of me being in a heterosexual relationship that is beautiful and fulfilling in every way was impossible. I never in a million years [01:12:00] thought that I would ever be in that or even want that. But yet once we focused on our feet and turned the future over to the lord and didn’t disbelief what the lord could do, then it’s when the love started to blossom between us and the relationship started to develop between us. Toward now we have this beautiful wonderful eternal marriage. So focusing on your feet and believing the lord can do anything, that is where it really changed the world for us.
Becky Borden: Yeah [01:12:00]