The Church’s recent release of a video showing North Star International Board member Becky Mackintosh’s family loving and accepting their openly gay son Xian has caused much discussion in social media.
While many laud this video as a step in the right direction, and indeed a lifesaving step in the right direction, it smacks as hypocritical to many LDS LGBT who see the “open door” love and acceptance modeled in this video slam shut on an institutional level when the church rejects the LDS LGBT children of these families when they legally marry.
They are getting closer to telling our stories, but they aren’t getting it completely.
This video may be an important development, but a far greater gift to the LDS LGBT community was quietly rolled out late last night that deserves both our full attention and gratitude.
Bryce Cook is one of the foremost important allies that the LDS LGBT community has. He and his wife Sarah have unconditionally worked for years cultivating a loving and safe space for Arizona LDS LGBT. He is a co-founder of the Arizona LDS LGBT group known as ALL Arizona. It is a model of an effective organization that knits together LDS LGBT, their families, and allies into a constructive and cohesive community.
Even though he has been recognized both in and out of the LGBT community for his public work, countless LDS LGBT know him for his hours of private and behind the scene support to LDS LGBT individuals. In my opinion Bryce and Sarah have saved more lives and influenced more families in a positive affirming way than any video can ever do. And when it comes down to it, this work with “the one” is the work of the Savior. By far the most important things that Bryce does are indeed done out of the sight of the public eye. He would be embarrassed that I have even spent this short amount of time talking about he and his wife. As an ally, he gets it. He completely gets it.
Last night Bryce released a resource which has the potential of inciting more long term change and understanding in the LDS community than the Mackintosh video. He explained the document in a short post in the ALL Arizona Facebook site:
“Dear ALL family, I have been working on a detailed article on the church position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage for over six months now and recently completed it. After having a number of people review it, I am ready to release it publicly. I think it has the potential to help church members see SSM (Same Sex Marriage) in a much more constructive way. And I hope it may help those of you who have family members who still don’t “get it.”
His preface really does foreshadow the groundbreaking work that follows in the rest of the publication.
In 1973 Lester Bush published a groundbreaking article in the Mormon Journal, Dialogue, on the history behind the priesthood and temple ban on people of African descent. This article, and the long-forgotten history it brought to light, had an incalculable effect on events leading to President Kimball’s 1978 revelation that overturned the ban. While I feel inadequate comparing my effort to Lester Bush’s work, his article was a guiding light to me as I set out to write a “Lester Bush” article for LGBT members of the church. I have felt strongly impressed that such an article is needed more than ever for LGBT people in the same way Lester Bush’s article was needed for black members of the church in the 1970s.
Bryce would never label his work as ground breaking or seminal, that is left to others to do. Having read this work, I recognize it as both groundbreaking and seminal for LDS LGBT.
Please read this important work. Discuss it. Share it. It is not just a great gift to the LDS LGBT community, but to the the LDS community.
Thank you Bryce. Thank you Sarah. I very much enjoy putting my shoulder to the wheel with you as we press along. Below is the link to this work: