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Since then, LGBTQ inclusion has been highlighted in multiple addresses given by campus faculty and visitors. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who charged everyone to “listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing.” While I am grateful for the progress, I feel we — as a community, state and country — still have a long way to go.During my senior year, the university I proudly represented was ranked as the second-most LGBTQ-unfriendly college in the United States, based on student responses to a Princeton Review survey.I traveled the country, performed for millions of people, took pictures with screaming fans, signed autographs and danced like no one was watching — even though everyone was. It was thrilling to watch fans around the globe share Cosmo’s newest dance video, which garnered hundreds of millions of views across social media platforms.I performed live on ESPN at the College Football Awards, and NBC Sports dubbed 2017-2018 the “Year of the Mascot” in honor of Cosmo’s viral influence. As scary as it seemed to dance in front of 60,000 people, an even scarier thought often crept into my mind — “If they knew who I really was, would they hate me?” I wore another mask while I was at BYU — a mask to cover the shame I felt for being “different.” For years I pleaded with God to change my sexual orientation, but after returning to BYU from a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I began realizing that being gay is an integral part of who I am.

There are many who feel misunderstood and heartbroken.

By actively showing love and acceptance, we can create a space in which people can remove their masks, no longer subject to the isolation and hopelessness that comes with feeling obliged to hide who they really are.

You know who you are: young in body or, more importantly, at heart, sexually adventurous, eager to explore the world and interested in doing that in the company of a woman who has more experience in life than you.

At the same time, my newfound comfort with coming out to those around me has freed me from much of the shame and embarrassment that once seemed inseparable from my life.

Doing so has allowed me to feel more fully the love of others.

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