WARNING: This blog post will discuss some topics of a personal and sensitive nature (rape, homophobia, abuse, violence, etc). If that disturbs or triggers you, please do not read it.
My name is bijte, and I’m a lesbian.
I have been closeted for a year now.
I came out in 2005 (or rather, was forcibly outed) in my small, rural, conservative town.
In 2006 I was a victim of corrective rape.
In 2014 I entered into a mixed-orientation marriage as a way to “fix myself” and avoid the strong feelings I had for a close female friend. My now ex-husband physically, emotionally, and sexually abused me. I spent part of the divorce proceedings homeless, and almost all of them living in fear of further abuse.
A year ago I gathered up the courage to tell my female friend how I felt about her, and discovered that she reciprocated my feelings. As a student at a Church school, that meant that I had to go into hiding in plain sight if I wanted to finish my degree in good standing- or simply finish it at all.
I have been told by cis-hetero members of the progressive Mormon community that the persecution that LGBT Mormons face is “not that bad”; that we could simply “go back into the closet”, that we could “keep our heads down” and live quiet lives of desperation, gathering in safe spaces to meet one another, and it would all be fine.
The events of Sunday, June 12th 2016 prove otherwise.
No closet is bullet-proof. No “safe space” is truly safe until our society, as a whole, if safe for LGBT people. We’ve made remarkable strides- this is one of the safest times in American history for queer people but we’re still not safe enough.
Some of the 50 people killed and 53 people wounded may have been closeted. They may have gathered in the Pulse nightclub because it was the only place they could truly be their free, authentic selves, and hate still found them.
My being closeted doesn’t keep me from the painful and often hateful comments of ward members and church leaders. It protects me on one level only, but still builds up layers of scar tissue on my heart. It is not a measure of safety I would wish on anyone.
The Church teaches that we should love the sinner, but hate the sin. But you cannot separate the two; “sin” and “sinner” are inextricably linked. Hating the sin leads to young women like me getting raped because straight men think they can “fix” us. It leads to angry, sick young men shooting up gay nightclubs, long believed to be one of the only safe places for queer people to gather, to eradicate the “sin” of being queer from our society.
Love the sinner. Love every part of them. Acknowledge that they are different from you, but not worthy of your vitriol. Recognize that your sister, brother, child- any of them may end up being the “sinner” you pin your hate to. And then think very, very hard about what the implications of “hating the sin” mean in the real world.