Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Gay Story [part 4]

A continuation of my story. Originally written 29 October 2013. 
Read part 1 / en español
Read part 2 / en español
Read part 3 / en español

Then I was off, back to BYU. I was called as executive secretary in our ward, where I'm currently serving**. As executive secretary at the beginning of a semester in a student Young Single Adult ward, I was busy. I ran my phone battery down from 100% to 0% twice a day for good week and a half, and not much better for the next month. Scheduling appointments and get-to-know-you interviews with the bishopric, administrative meetings on several nights of the week, and marathon Sunday meetings helped my grades to tank for the first month of school. Throw in some Utah storms, flooding, and emergency cleanup all at the same time, and I was really suffering academically (a big deal to me). But I was grateful for the chance to serve, and in the past month I've pulled up my grades mostly back to normal, established a good routine, and had the blessing of an assistant executive secretary. In short, I didn't have time to confront my SSA experience further or confront friends about it. Through all this, I felt sustained in my calling but a little abandoned in my same-gender attraction difficulties. It felt like God had said: Yep! You're right, Dan, this is your challenge, your greatest offering to me! Now get on it! I felt alone, stuck. This went on for the first couple weeks of the semester. I was left spiritually and emotionally bogged down.

My major is Computer Science with an emphasis in Bioinformatics. I've always been fascinated by and curious about how form meets function in the human body. Cells, molecules, and all their interactions are coded in DNA, God's source code for the human body. I'm still convinced that God is the greatest programmer. But sometimes our code modifies itself and despite all the feedback control and error-correcting processes that are programmed in, we see things like genetic defects, diseases, dysfunctions, cancers, etc. I wanted to study the why and the how. Naturally, as I came to accept that I'm gay, I wanted to see the genetic basis for it. I knew that there is an immense debate as to how much genetics contributes and how much the environment contributes. My CS 418 Bioinformatics class has a research project that we are to get involved in. The day that we were to come to class with a brief description of what we wanted to research (so that we could form groups), I was terrified. How do I do this? It's a round-robin, with our professor calling out names and asking what our desired research topic was. My mind is racing. My heart is aching. I know that my name is one of the first, alphabetically. He's gonna call on me first, I just know it. How can I phrase my topic? How about "The role of epigenetics in prenatal cell differentiation" or "the effect of DNA methylation in development of diseases/abnormalities"? I'm trying to strike a balance between being able to study the genetic basis of homosexuality and being able to work with a group without them knowing I'm gay. The professor continues calling out names.

Suddenly a loud voice fills the room: "Well...I am a gay man." 

HOLY CRAP. Did I just say that? My heart stops. Me? How could my voice betray me like that?! NOT FAIR! The professor responds: "so...the Biology of Hom Gay  Homosexuality," struggling to find the BYU-appropriate terminology. Our professor looks up at someone else. WAIT...WHAT? Who's he looking at? What just happened? Another guy in our class confirms the topic to our professor, who is editing the possible-topics page in an online class wiki. "Daniel Bunker?" he calls out next. I respond weakly "Uh, throw my name up on this topic too."  I can't believe it. Another gay guy is in my class! The professor continues with the names. Suddenly another guy decides to join the group. Hurray! This one's not even gay! It's perfect—a gay guy that's out, a gay guy that's closeted, and a straight guy. Nobody has to know about me! No guilt by association here!

My Bioinformatics research group: Jimmy, Me, Scott.
Guess the straight one!

**I'm no longer serving as executive secretary, but that's a story for another day :)

Dan Bunker


  1. Love reading your story. Such courage!!

  2. I'm assuming he told you already, but Jimmy has a blog...

    Am enjoying your blog.

  3. You're not? But executive secretary is _the_ gay calling (in YSA wards) ;).

  4. Dan, as I read your blog and the emotional roller coaster you have been on I just want to hug you and hold you. I know you have your parents and you are an adult but we all need hugs, right? I love you.