A father who was convinced prayer would heal his homosexuality has opened up about he eventually came out and started dating men — with the help of his wife.
Cameron Call, a 33-year-old chiropractor and clinic director from Phoenix, Arizona, was raised in a strict Mormon home where he was taught the power of prayer and the importance of having faith.
‘The Latter-day Saints church has very strict teachings regarding homosexuality, and when I was a kid it was not talked about openly,’ he recalled. ‘Gays were equivalent to pedophiles, murderers, and rapists.’
Cameron said his religious background made him ‘terrified’ to be gay, and he thought if he prayed enough, the feelings would go away.
‘I realized when I was about nine. I noticed I was always fascinated at looking at other men. When I realized I was different, I became afraid. I felt like a mistake and like there was this disease inside me that I needed to get rid of,’ he said.
‘So at a young age, I planted a seed of faith and developed the hope that if I tried hard enough and was righteous enough God would answer my prayers and take the gay part of me away. I just knew it.’
Cameron said that from the time he was in grade school, he devoted all of his energy to being the ‘perfect kid’ who did everything he was supposed to. He truly believed that if he followed all of the commandments, he would stop being gay.
‘In my head, it all seemed so simple,’ he said. ‘If I did everything I was supposed to, then God would finally change me. How could He ever deny such a blessing from someone who was so faithful? That was the miracle I was hoping for.
‘In my eyes, being gay meant you were broken, a mistake, and something that needed to be fixed and changed and corrected,’ he explained. ‘I believed from a young age that if I was righteous enough I would be healed.
‘So not only did I suppress things by never discussing them, I added layer upon layer of effort to be someone I wasn’t, doing things purely motivated by my desire and hope that I would change.’
Cameron spent years battling his homosexual thoughts, and when the opportunity arose to become a missionary for his church when he was 19, he jumped at the chance.
After two years of being the most obedient missionary there could be and spending a lot of time around other men and not feeling any attraction towards them, Cameron was convinced he was ‘healed’ of his homosexuality.
‘I loved my time as a missionary. It was a great escape from real life. I was able to focus my thoughts on the work I was doing to “serve the Lord” and I was blessed with some amazing experiences,’ he recalled.
‘During those two years, I had more time with men than I had had my entire life. I felt connected to men, respected by them, and close to them. And I was surprised that during that time I never had any sexual thoughts or feelings about them,’ he continued.
‘When I came home I thought that experience had healed me. I was so convinced that I was healed of my gayness I vowed to never let myself consider it as a possibility.’
In college, Cameron met and fell in love with his now ex-wife, Kristin, ‘who had every attribute a religious family man should want in his wife.’ They were married within six months, but he ‘struggled with sex’ from the moment they said ‘I do.’
‘I didn’t want it very often. I didn’t really crave it or enjoy it. And as newlyweds that bothered my now ex-wife,’ he explained. ‘I never thought much about it but just assumed I was tired, or stressed, or something like that.
‘I know that happens to lots of people. But nearly every time she would initiate sex it would never work out. And that left her feeling embarrassed, hurt, and angry.’
Despite sex being a rarity in their marriage, Cameron and Kristin welcomed three children together: Nash, seven, Granger, seven, and Tenley, five.
The dad exhausted himself trying to keep up with the façade of being a heterosexual man — and a perfect one at that.
‘With even more effort I kept working at becoming someone I thought I should and could be. A more perfect husband. A more perfect church member. And a more perfect father,’ he recalled. ‘I continued to plead with the Lord to change my mind and get rid of my thoughts and feelings that I viewed as evil and wrong.
‘I attempted to lose myself in my school work and priorities in the home and make sure I had no time for idleness or complacency. I starved myself of hobbies, creative experiences, and authentic personal growth. I devoted my energy to being a super masculine heterosexual man. That was exactly who I was supposed to be.
‘This gap in my identity continued to widen as I got older and was at the root of almost every argument in my marriage,’ he admitted. ‘And as the years went on the gap between who I was trying to be and who I really am became too much to handle.’
Cameron said he was ‘on the verge of a breakdown’ in 2018 when he realized that he finally needed to tell Kristin the truth.
‘I struggled with thoughts and feelings for years. I was depressed and anxious and would off and on escape to gay pornography. My wife began to suspect that I was gay based on our lack of sex and would ask me on occasion,’ he said. ‘I always denied it. But eventually, I reached a breaking point and couldn’t take it any longer. Telling her was a huge relief and it got much easier from there.’
‘When I first came out to her, we had no intention of getting a divorce. We planned on staying in a mixed-orientation marriage and making it work. She was supportive in allowing me to express my thoughts and feelings, connect with other gay married men in the church.’
Despite their best intentions to make their marriage work, they divorced in July 2019 after realizing neither of them was happy in their relationship.
Cameron admitted that he regrets not having the courage to tell his wife about his sexuality before they were married.
‘I know my choice to not tell her I was gay before we were married has caused a lot of pain,’ he said. ‘Healing from that is going to take some time. But I know we both made the right decision and I believe in timing.
‘I am confident that as time goes on, healing will occur, and we will both see even more than we do now that we are right where we are supposed to be.’
Although they are no longer husband and wife, Cameron and Kristin are both dedicated to their children and parenting them together.
‘We are both committed to our children and their well-being as we all navigate life after divorce. It is not always pretty or smooth but we are both doing the best we can to support each other in the process. Our relationship is fairly amicable and we take it a day at a time,’ he said.
‘I hope they see the hard choices their mom and I made as an example of putting yourself first,’ he added. ‘We are always taught how important it is to put others first and all that, while I know that is important it’s also necessary to be kind selfish at times.
‘We all deserve love. Not just from others, but from ourselves. And I hope my kids see what we, and I do and am doing as an example of that.’
While he still cares for his ex-wife, Cameron doesn’t have any regrets about his decision to come out.
‘A weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I feel like I am in this constant state of exhale. Sure it’s been a lot to process and navigate and learn. But I can honestly say I have never been happier,’ he said. ‘I have never felt more alive or more confident in who I am and what I am doing. I won’t deny that I am grieving a lot of my ‘old life’ still.
‘I still love my ex-wife and care for her deeply. And our marriage ending and family dynamic changing has been very painful. I find myself crying at just about everything on certain days,’ he admitted.
‘But I know that my grieving will not last. And even with all the grief that I feel, there is an even stronger and bigger feeling of excitement, hope, and anticipation for my future.
‘If I was able to accomplish what I did as a closeted gay man, I can’t wait to see what I am capable of as an out and proud gay man. Bring it on.
‘For years I felt like I was the only person in my situation. It has been so eye-opening learning just how many people were and are in a similar situation I was in. That loneliness is so defeating. But it doesn’t have to be.’