This morning I am sitting here at my kitchen table in a melancholy mood. It’s an anniversary, but not one to be celebrated in the least.
My youngest who is 12 is next to me watching Lego Batman clips, my oldest is in the study and my 16 year old is still, of course, sleeping. My thoughts also go to my 20 year old son serving his mission in England as well as my daughter who is a Junior at BYU. Surrounded by my children, I will write first draft, raw, unedited thoughts on this anniversary of the exclusion policy.
One year ago today I was betrayed by my church, no… more specifically my children were betrayed by church policy.
On Thursday, November 5th, 2015 I saw a story come across my Facebook news feed. Seeing that it was a handbook change I read it with interest. Until the day I die I will remember the enveloping darkness as my curiosity turned to a crushing disbelief. This handbook change was so unbelievable I initially dismissed it as an obviously sensationalized story. It wasn’t scriptural. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t doctrinal. I had an instant testimony that it wasn’t true.
Today I was thinking about the upcoming anniversary of the 2015 November Exclusion Policy. As I was caught up in sadness and anger, Facebook popped up this friendly reminder:
Trigger Warning: This is a frank discussion about the treatment of the believing gay male in the church, including excommunication, which some may find disturbing. This post is not intended for gay youth or gay men who are hurting as they reconcile their sexuality with the teachings of the church. If you feel you need to talk to someone, please do not keep it to yourself. Please call the Suicide Prevention Line (800) 273-8255. If you are a youth please call the Trevor Project (866) 488-7386. Many people care about you.
Your LGBT community will at times have difficult discussions such this one to shed light on previously hidden issues for our allies and others outside our community to consider.
When I hung up the phone with our Stake Young Men’s President back in 2008, I had a lot to think about.
“We really want Jonathan to come on the trek this year. We have been trying to figure out in our planning meetings how to accommodate him, perhaps have him ride in a handcart and have his trek family care for him along the trail. We think it would be inspirational for the youth to see Jonathan on the trek.”
The Jonathan he was referring to was my 16 year old son. Jonathan was born with both autism and several physical challenges with his legs, knees and feet. What was meant to be a highly spiritual event for a typical Mormon teenager would have only been a nightmare for him.
Attention straight Mormons without a recommend!
Tired of feeling apostate at family weddings? Feeling unappreciated after decorating the cultural hall with ten thousand yards of crepe paper and filling endless silver foil cupcake liners with buttermints and peanuts only to be relegated to the waiting room for the actual ceremony?
Feel tired no more!
In appreciation for your “Sit with me Sundays,” the LGBT community would like to give back. We will come sit with you outside the temple to help you feel comfortable and not alone! Continue reading
On the evening of April 6th, 1986 I sat alone in a dark and empty meetinghouse foyer trembling.
It was an old style church building in a small Illinois town with cold vinyl flooring and a church issued couch. I couldn’t find where the light switches were and as the sun continued to set, the gathering darkness revealed light streaming from under the Bishop’s door.
I fully understood what a pivotal moment this was for me as a 17 year old boy, and although armed with fresh courage from that weekend’s general conference, I was terrified.
This week we lost five young adults to suicide. Four were LDS. Four were LGBT. No words can adequately express the sorrow and grief for such loss.
Once isolated by the miles, social media allows our geographically diverse community a gathering place to process, mourn and bear one another’s burdens. Amid our collective support, one simple but profound observation emerged: “Suicide is complex and layered. Always. It is never possible to point to a specific reason.”
Yesterday the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah officials admit they are unsure why the youth suicide rate has nearly tripled since 2007.
We may not be able to officially pin point specific reasons, but we are familiar with the wounds.
Last Monday I was in a restaurant sharing dinner with two of the greatest Mormon LGBT allies that I know. We talked the night away on every subject under the sun concerning the intersection of Mormons and gays. Near the end of the evening the conversation turned more personal and they asked me, “Why do you stay? What motivates you to continue to identify as Mormon?”
Time seemed to stand still as I reflected on my journey in the Mormon Church from child to adult, from in the closet to coming out. I may have been born with homosexuality woven into my genes, but just as intimately woven into my Self was Mormonism. My 47 years on this planet are like no one else’s and so my answer to their question would be like no one else’s.
After taking a few moments to gather my thoughts, this was my answer:
The latter part of this month I have been greatly affected by the continual data coming to light concerning Mormon youth and young adult LGBT suicide.
I felt extreme pressure and discomfort as a gay teen in the 80s. But I cannot begin to imagine the added pressures to the LGBTQIA+ youth of today in our church in a post policy world. Continue reading