Today, a good friend of mine contacted me to tell me that he is going back to Church after his Bishop dad passed away a few months ago. My friend is gay and has been out of the closet to family and friends for many years, we briefly discussed how it is going to be for him and why he decided to come back to the Church.
He told me he lost his job so he was moving back to his mother’s house and he was receiving the visit of the missionaries again and that he decided to leave the things of the world behind him and start a new chapter in his life. Perhaps you might be reading this and think this is cause for rejoice… I am not that sure and I don’t know how to feel about it.
You see, I’ve known him since we were both 12 years old and spent every activity in the Church with him as my buddy. One of the most sensitive and kindest souls I ever met. I always knew he was gay and yet I saw him dating a girl for 2 ½ years because that’s what boys were supposed to do. His father never accepted the fact that he is homosexual and prohibited him to visit the family home. It was extremely hard for him, it was hard because all he ever wanted was to feel accepted and acknowledged by the people he loves…. His family, friends and members of the Church.
I am sorry Elder Bednar but my friend IS homosexual AND Mormon. But again, if you think people should not be labeled, I suppose you have no problem then if I define myself as…well…JUST ME and no longer a Cheeky Mormon?
Next time someone asks me what is my religion, instead of using that opportunity to teach about the LDS Church and state that I am a Mormon, I will say…my religion is life, butterflies, birds and trees…my religion is freedom, my religion is peace and you know, sound all hippie and philosophical like if we were back in the 70’s. I will do that. No, really… I will.
Should we tell the Genesis group representing Black members of the Church and their families that they should refer themselves only as LDS? What about when I have to fill forms should I add a new category called “Human race”?
Going back to my friend… he has not been in touch with the Church for a long time, he doesn’t know an Apostle does not believe people like him exist. How to tell him that we only use labels when is it convenient to us? How to explain Elder Bednar that people like my friend NEED to be validated and that validating who they are and how they feel will bring them CLOSER to the Church instead of making them LEAVE?
Validating does not mean you have to agree with their choices in life. It means you acknowledge their existence and their feelings. I did not want to break his heart today but I know sooner or later, he will find out and with a heavy heart and a lot of embarrassment I will have to tell him that it is true.
But I will add an important element after saying that, I will tell him that Elder Bednar probably did not mean it in a negative way and that the opinion of a few ones does not necessarily reflect how every member of this Church feels about him and his sexual orientation. And most of all, that I love him and I DO see him and I know he DOES exist.
I have been upset lately about it because I find that at times we make tremendous progress on this particular issue to then ruin it with one single sentence and we are forced to go back 100,000 steps and even provide free ammunition to the many trolls we have in our midst. How can we become more understanding, less judgemental, more welcoming and if we cannot help it basically just shut up a little more?
I hope each one of you help my friend today by helping and acknowledging your own gay friends, family who are members of the Church and who are making a great impact in the lives of so many people.
PLEASE, make them feel welcome and needed, shower them with genuine love and make yourself available when they need to talk. I am still reading stories of amazing members of the Church who were gay and decided to commit suicide, it weighs heavy on my heart. The truth of the matter is that we need to be sensitive about this topic in ALL our conversations, and cut the crap… just STOP condemning people like if we were Gods ourselves! Can we please stop for a minute the annoying preaching, the irritating holier than thou attitude and embrace everyone who has a desire to be part of God’s Church? Is it so much to ask? Really?
Gay is NOT a bad word. Gays EXIST. Gay Mormons DO EXIST.