I Believe in Rexburg: A Response to My Letter to the Editor

By Keith Trottier Photo Credit: Lindsay Cyngot: “Sleepsong” 2013

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When I came to Rexburg I was a runaway. I was fresh off my mission and in the middle of my escape from the toxic fallout of my parent’s not so civil divorce. The wounds of being kicked out of my own house and forced to live at my best friend’s place were still fresh on my vulnerable heart. The memories of a self proclaimed “failed” mother’s tears weighed on my freshman mind. I was a mess, a nobody, and a castaway.

When I look back I feel myself to have been like one of the a Lost Boys. I believed myself “found” upon my arrival at college, and more so felt that I had hold on a future built on smoke like the prayers of the Israelites on the silvery streams of incense. But I was nonetheless lost and more so in denial about who I was.

It didn’t take long before the “bubble,” as we call the BYU-Idaho environment, began to take its toll as the open zealotry that abounded caused my own perception of self worth to diminish. All around were happy couples dating and enjoying the next step in life and there I was, a stick in the mud, stuck underneath a glass ceiling now. Somehow I had, without even trying, gone from player to spectator in life and I felt that I was doomed to watch my existence wither in darkness while others bloomed in the light.

On one particular day in July I was on my way to class and thoughts of my own mediocrity and unavoidable oblivion haunted me. I remember it was in that moment that almost as in a response to my own thoughts that the song on my I-Pod changed and Gaga’s distinct voice began to sing, as if it were to me, that in some bizarre way I was on the Edge of Glory.

In those five minutes and twenty-one seconds of serenade I made a decision. I wasn’t going to let my life pass me by, and I wasn’t going to believe my existence forfeit. I was going to do something, but I had no idea what. I was going to change my life, and instead of waging the battle between staying in my religion of choice ie: Mormonism, or going to the wayside, I was going to do neither. I was going to make my own space, a space where I could be myself and be in the LDS Church.

Since that day much has changed, namely me. But also something else, Rexburg.

Many have told me as I’ve traversed this path that Rexburg is like an old mule, stuck in its ways and stubborn almost to the point of violence at the introduction of change. I’ve been called an inspiration, a hero. I’ve been told I’m brave, progressive, edgy, refreshing and so on and so forth, because I voice my opinions and fight a so called “battle” the majority thinks is doomed.

If it were a battle I’d politely refuse this claim, but since this is not a battle I will out rightly state that change is coming not winter and it cannot be avoided. I believe in Rexburg, and while some may feel that my hope is in vain, I’ve seen the goodness of these people.

Three weeks ago I returned home from the Affirmations Gay and Lesbian Mormons conference in Salt Lake City to meet my new roommates for the first time. When I walked through the door an old roommate from a previous semester was there and he, being the character that he is, introduced me as: “This is Keith, he’s kind of a big deal, he runs an LGBT organization.”

After answering a few questions, namely what LGBT meant, I announced my sexuality and not a single person so much as batted an eye at me in protest or disgust. I was just ‘Keith’ and that was that. In fact, because of that incident many of my roommates have come to me with questions about what it’s like to be gay here at BYU-Idaho, or what I believe about this or that, or what my future looks like.

It’s because of incidents like this that dialogues such, as these are possible. Things are getting better here in Rexburg, and I have faith that one-day BYU-I wont be a place of pain for those LGBT who pass through its halls. I believe one day our brothers and sisters will, through the sacrifices and heart aches borne by those of us who went before, understand how to include and celebrate us in such a way that coming to Rexburg is seen as something worthwhile to all.

While this may not be Neverland, and it while it would be silly to say we believe in fairies, the effects of our disbelief are just as real in application here as they are when “dealing” with those mythical, winged beings. The fastest way to kill a cause-or a fairy-is through our own lack of belief.

When we say things can’t change then we’re condemning them to remain the same for longer. When we say we don’t believe in short we’re openly admitting our own lack of motivation to change what’s wrong in our world.

Everyone has a reason as to why they no longer believe, or never did, and those experiences are valid, but we chose how our experiences will define our character. Don’t give up hope because you’ve been hurt before, and don’t quit out of fear of potential heartache and pain. 

We need not believe in fairies, but we need to believe in humanity. We need believe in goodness, and love. If we want life to improve we have to work for it, and we have to have faith in the face of opposition that our sacrifices have significance. And we have to know that our stories are paving the  road into a new and better future.

One day when I leave BYU-Idaho I want to look back at the university I found and discover it again, as if for the first time, as something more fantastic than it was before.  So to all who think things will never change, I say look around, they already have. Things are not as they were, and thankfully so. Each day we progress, and with each experience felt we evolve in our beliefs into something more, something greater. I believe in Rexburg and I believe in my peers. I’m gay, and I’m LDS and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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5 Responses to “I Believe in Rexburg: A Response to My Letter to the Editor”
  1. megabhau says:

    Another wonderful post!! Thank you! If you get too cold up there, the desert Abhaus would love to have you visit us in Sunny AZ!! Love you dearly.

  2. Wendy Montgomery says:

    You have a beautiful soul, Keith. I love reading your thoughts in written form. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with us and being vulnerable. That’s not an easy thing to do. Love you, my friend! ❤

  3. Westen Archibald says:

    Hey that was way good Keith. Keep helping the people of Rexburg develop charity. Your a good man.

  4. Diane Oviatt says:

    Keith, love you, love your writing! If you’re ever in NorCal please come stay with us! Diane

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