Perhaps our feelings about tomorrow’s letter were abreacted in last week’s multifarious and sporadically acerbic discussion. My purpose here is to highlight some of the feelings and perspective of one who is connected to many aspects of the Church’s political action regarding gay marriage. My sister Emily is a lawyer in California, and gay (also kind, witty, and sagacious, but that is beside the point). Her journey through life has had a positive and profound impact on my family and I. I have learned a lot from her, but this issue specifically has inspired me to be more thoughtful and considerate of those who are different from my straight white male middle-class American self (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I have often contemplated on the thought that members who have gay friends or family often seem to feel differently than those who do not (or who are not aware of it). The following is from an email regarding this topic she recently sent to the rest of our family and some friends. With her approval, I would like to share it here:
This morning someone forwarded me the letter that went out, I knew about it but hadn’t seen it yet. I don’t know why I should all of a sudden be so hurt and disappointed, maybe it feels more directly threatening than previous times this ’cause’ has been taken up by the church but I am seriously considering showing up in my ward for the first time on a testimony meeting Sunday and offering a few thoughts. I am thinking about how I could get the word out to ‘inactive’ gay Mormons all over the state to suggest a similar effort… If people spoke from their hearts, no doubt many would be made a little uncomfortable, and some probably offended, but if it made them feel even a little conflicted then it would be a success. And it’s not like a whole lot is at stake for us in terms of our standing. I’ve worked so hard to maintain a positive attitude for many years but I am very very hurt and disappointed and angry right now.
One of my BYU professors, in whom I confided before I left there, said “there will be a lot of Mormons who won’t love you but you don’t have to turn your back on your faith.” I have often reflected on that. I don’t know if I would be able to go through with the testimony meeting address or not, but if I did I would want to do my best to have a spirit of love about it. Though it is deeply offensive that a religious, or any, private institution (and many of its constituents) feel completely justified in a effort to dictate my, and my friends’ civil, secular, and / or individual rights, but would probably not at all welcome the opposite in the form of a gay intrusion into their worship services, and part of me wishes I could get up and tell them that. I just don’t think it would be very helpful toward winning hearts and minds. I know how fearfully people react to anyone they perceive as a ‘hostile’ disaffected or ex-Mormon because that’s how I used to react, and fear is already big part of the problem.
I’m sorry if this is troubling to any of you but I am grateful that I’m now able to express these feelings, whereas even a year ago I don’t think I could have. A lot of that is due to your expressions of love and increased invitations for communication even when it’s challenging…
…In response to…why is it that gay people seem to make such a big deal about being gay, the point was…that if you’re not gay / lesbian you never really have to give it a second thought. If you’re holding hands on the street with your opposite-sex partner, you can be confident wherever you go that nobody will notice or care (other than maybe thinking how sweet it is to be in love). But if you’re gay, you have to decide if you feel safe or not just to express this simple little affection in public, because people might take it as some kind of ‘statement.’
Thanks for listening,