I've been reeling the past few days trying to process my feelings about the church's policy change for gay families. I realized I have two messages: one for those directly hurt by the new policy and one for those defensive of the church due to this policy. Read one or both. My heart is filled with love and respect for both parties and everyone else lying somewhere in between. It's because of that love and respect that I've got somewhat of a stern talking-to for the latter group.
A message to those directly hurt by this policy,
To my gay Mormon friends, I love you. No one should have to hide, or try to change, the core of who they are. If you are struggling to find hope, love, support, or understanding, my doors are always open. I will be your friend. If you haven't come out yet, know that there are people waiting to embrace the real you with open arms.
Perhaps no one has told you, so I will tell you: It's okay to reject church teachings that diminish you as a person or fail to honor the whole of your soul. Honor your own intellect. Respect the part of yourself that doesn't fit the given mold of who you are supposed to be. Trust the voice inside of you that says you deserve happiness, fulfillment, and romantic love. Walt Whitman wrote, "Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul."
You are worthwhile. You are worthy. Exactly as you are right now, in all your brokenness and shame--you are enough. You may feel the need to hide or change who you are from your family and community, but that's not your fault and it's not a reflection of your worth. You are immersed in a culture that seeks to regulate behavior through shame. This new policy blatantly contradicts the words of Christ (here) and ostracizes children of gay people. The policy is NOT divine, YOU are divine. The fact that you think and hurt and feel is incredible. You are needed on this planet. The real you, all of you is needed. Please know that this new policy is a regrettable response by the church to the Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage across the United States. The church will rue this day. History tells us so. Please know that.
National Suicide Prevention Line: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
My message to those who feel defensive of the church due to this policy,
If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, right now, spiritually, you're entitled to be there for a suffering sibling in Christ or be silent until you can. Please stop defending the church and instead show up for someone who is hurting. Listen to a gay Mormon or anyone who considers themselves part of the gay community in any way. Hear their story and their experience and truly mourn with them. No matter how deep your convictions that this policy change comes from God, this change is not a celebration for anyone. It has and will continue to cause pain for millions of individuals and hundreds of thousands of families.
The church is not in danger here. In the dynamic between the church and all the gay individuals and families whom this policy directly affects, the church has all the power. Realize that. This should ring especially true for you if you believe the church cannot fall or be defeated, as many faithful members do. The church as a body isn't at risk of suicide or feelings of rejection, isolation, or being outcasted. The church isn't a human being capable of being crushed and doesn't have the capacity to be vulnerable, experience deeply painful shame, or the desire to stop existing. Stop defending the church when leaders chose to issue a policy that blatantly ostracizes an already vulnerable demographic. Please instead show up for a living, breathing person in pain due to this change.
If you don't battle crippling self-hatred and shame, if you believe God loves you, if you believe you are worthwhile and have value, you enjoy huge privilege that many LGBT Mormons do not. If you feel accepted enough by your family, community, and culture to live your authentic, true self, you are privileged. That means the game is rigged just a little bit (or a lot) in your favor. Think about that. In the church's crusade against homosexuality, you are protected from self-hatred and excruciatingly painful shame (which degree cannot be overstated). You need to understand if you don't already how much that position privileges you above people who weren't born fitting the Mormon mold. And how it strips from you the spiritual entitlement to ignore people who are truly vulnerable and suffering under the guise of righteousness.
***If you're Mormon and part of a Mormon community and you think you don't know any gay Mormons, what that really means is you haven't positioned yourself as compassionate and safe enough for the gay Mormons in your life to trust you. Build a track record of love and support for your gay brothers and sisters and watch as people already in your life open up to you.***
NOTE: Sexual orientation and gender identity are not black and white, but rather gray. While those who identify as LGBT are in the minority in society, many people in reality land somewhere on a spectrum between two polars. There are as many sexual orientations and gender identities as there are people. Just as skin tone varies from person to person, so does sexual orientation and gender identity. If you look at a collective view of humanity, the skin colors you see are a myriad of beautiful tones, so it is with sexual orientation and gender identity. While the church has a black or white stance on homosexuality, people are not.
Just some background on me, if you don't already know. I grew up in a heterosexual Mormon household with my dad and stepmom and part-time in my lesbian mom's home. She has been with her partner/wife since I was 8 year's old in a committed, "marital" relationship. I was baptized at 8, served a mission, and married in the temple. I left the church over a year ago after experiencing a crisis of faith.