Today I marched with my wife, over 300 hundred LDS individuals and thousands of others with thousands more looking on at the Salt Lake City, UT gay pride parade. The only one that tops it in the state of Utah is the Pioneer days of 47' parade, it was amazing. Salt Lake has the 5th largest pride festival in the entire country (I was told by theHRC). The outpouring of love and gratitude both at the parade and found afterward on social networks was amazing. One of my favorite signs held in the LDS group was from a favorite primary song written by LDS ally Carol Lynn Pearson "I'll walk with you, I'll talk with you, that's how I'll show my love for you." Many tears were shed, hearts melted and bridges built.
Yet what does this all mean? Is the LDS church now accepting gay marriage? Has their stance softened? Thankfully there have been minor improvements but overall it has been a slow process. I recently read the heart breaking experience of an LDS gay man:
I made a choice a long time ago. To live celibate. To live celibate until my parents pass on and then I will kill myself. I’m 49 years old and lived my life as righteously as I could. I have no one in my life. I have nothing to gain. Nothing to live for. I don’t know why I’m gay. I hate it. I hate it with every fiber of my being. I feel this is the only choice I have.
I just don’t understand why. Why do I have this burden if there is no way to overcome it? Four years of reparative therapy and ex-gay groups and nothing changed. I’m still gay. Which according to the scriptures is an abomination. I’m an abomination.
I hate this life. I want it to be over. Soon. Unfortunately my parents are very healthy. Comes from living a clean life I guess. I wouldn’t know. I’ve always been an abomination.
I’m angry with God and I’m angry with myself for having this burden.
All the platitudes and I’m-so-sorries in the world cannot quench the agony of being a gay Mormon. I keep seeing people saying, “We’re here for you.” Well, you’re not. You claim to be but when it comes down to the wire you don’t want to be bothered with a faggot.
I love the Gospel and I love the Church with all my heart. There just is no place in it for someone like me. So why bother? Nothing matters anymore. No matter how I live or how righteous I am it all boils down to one thing. I’m an abomination looking for a redemption that will never come.
This is the reality of being a gay Mormon.
A powerful, harmful experience of someone that seems to have had years of agonizing internal and external conflict. One life like this is one too many yet sadly it is not a singular experience. Is religion, particularly the Christian faith destined to bring such pain? Is this what was meant in the gospel of Matthew chapter 10 when Jesus said "Think not that I came to send peace on the earth..."? I hardly think so, Jesus mentioned homosexuality a grand total of zero times. It is only mentioned a handful of times out of the over 31,000 verses in the entirety of the Bible. In the book of Mormon there are 6,600 verses and one in 2 Nephi 13 mentions "the sin of Sodom". Even in the LDS guide to the scriptures under the topic of homosexuality only 8 verses are shown out of over 40,000 verses that comprise the Mormon scriptures (The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price). Compare this to the less debatable and common place sin of pride, the position of the poor or divine virtue of love. Each of which far outweighs homosexuality on the scales of biblical importance by verse and repetition.
Why is this such a divisive issue that often causes children of God to feel like they were created to fail? In the LDS community the principal of eternal families is a doctrine of much importance and emphasis (one of my personal faves) yet it forces some people to either live a life without an intimate loving relationship and hope that all will be ironed out in the next life OR to abandon that faith & hope in order to find a measure of love and companionship on this Earth in this life. Would anyone want to make such a choice? Why must this dichotomy be faced? I would not wish that upon anyone. Why do we so often choose to exclude and alienate the "other"...the immigrant, the foreigner, the Muslim, the other political party, the rich/poor, and the sexual minority to name a few? When we realize that we are all God's children and that my welfare is deeply connected to yours this idea of "other" is erased.
We must follow the example of such contemporary prophets as South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu who says: Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice. It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all -- all of us -- part of God's family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.
Brigham Young University, the private LDS institution, in another example of progress has recently had convocations on what it means to be an LGBT student at BYU where people were turned away because there was not room enough to contain all who wanted to attend. A very powerful BYU "It gets better" video has even been released. This would be unimaginable 15, 10 even 5 years ago.
My favorite verse from the Book of Mormon sums it up nicely, "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men...always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." -Ether 12: 4 The kingdom of heaven is among you, let's make it so for all of God's children.
As always please share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, arguments and anything else in comments.