Yesterday, a small army of Latter-day Saints made the news when they marched in the Salt Lake City Pride parade. The group called Mormons Building Bridges wore their best Sunday attire, carried banners and signs, and expressed love for their LGBT brothers and sisters.
As I read the newspaper article about the event, I got all choked up. You see, I have had the nagging feeling to come out to a larger group of people for a long time. The people closest to me know that I am gay, but there are so many others I still keep in contact with through Facebook that do not. Of course, I don’t see many of those people any more, but we get to see into a little bit of each others’ lives through the updates we post on the social media website.
I thought I would start by posting a link to one of the newspaper articles, but I saw that a couple of friends had already done that. Instead, I let their post do that part of the job for me, and then I left to watch a matinee with a friend.
Before the movie started, I was brought to tears by the movie trailer for Les Miserable. I will admit, great music does touch me deeply, and I have heard the song I Dreamed a Dream numerous times. I cried when I first heard that song performed on the stage many years ago, but why was I crying today? I think it’s because I could relate to the following lyrics:
I dreamed a dream in times gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving…
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder…
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.
This song speaks so eloquently about my life, and I am sure many other gay or lesbian members of the church feel the same way. The truth is, members of my faith have been the ones who have made my life seem unbearable at times. They are the tigers that come at night. I realize that much of what they have said was not intentionally directed toward me, and most of the time when they were condemning homosexuals, they didn’t realize they were actually talking about me. Yet, I have let their “voices soft as thunder” kill some of my dreams.
So, this one small act of participating in the Pride parade by some Latter-day Saints made me feel like there was hope. I could almost feel a sweeping change of heart in the near future, but then I got home and read some new comments others have posted on Facebook.
The most painful words came from somebody I haven’t seen in years, but I remember him being a relationship expert who loved to provoke people. In his first comment he asked “What does it mean to build bridges?” Somebody responded quite well about how the group is about treating each other with compassion and respect.
This brother responded by saying that he has never persecuted nor hated any homosexuals, but that they hate the Mormon Church because “we don’t accept their lifestyle.” I tried to let what he said go, but I also felt the urge to click on his profile to see if he had said anything else. Sure enough, there was an earlier post that said he couldn’t wait until the Mormons start marching to show unity with the nudists and the swingers.
That comment hurt even more. It was a reminder of how I had been made to feel about myself so often in my LDS congregations. Because I was wired to love a little differently than most, I was somehow less worthy of God’s love than the heterosexual members. The inferences I got from comments that I would often hear in priesthood meeting and Sunday School were that I was partly responsible for the moral decline of our generation.
It’s hard to see people who I cared about at one time in my life make the comments that I have read today. I am also sad to see that others liked the hurtful words written by others. Yes, a simple click of the like button sometimes hurts.
It is so difficult to stay faithful when so many “good, upstanding members of the church” compare us to pedophiles, rapists, or pornography addicts. I marvel that these people can say such mean-spirited things and yet then say that they don’t hate me. I also wonder how many other people who are secretly dealing with their homosexuality see and hear these comments and feel beaten down and lose hope.
The problem we have in the LDS community is that we say things among our “brothers and sisters” that we would never dare say in public. It’s our way of making us feel like we “love the sinner but hate the sin.” Too often we don’t realize that somebody who is listening or reading one of our comments is “one of them,” and our comments are tearing at their hearts. That, however, doesn’t matter. Those comments reinforce an unfair attitude that is unfortunately still too prevalent in our society.
As I write this, a Primary song comes to mind:
I want to be kind to ev’ryone,
For that is right, you see.
So I say to myself, “Remember this:
Kindness begins with me.”
I am grateful to those wonderful people who marched with Mormons Building Bridges. They are living those simple principals that are taught as early as Primary. I hope that those Facebook friends will be able to take a look at their words and understand how they affect other people. I think that overall they are loving and caring people, but we still have some hearts that need to be softened. I know I will be more careful about what I say about others, because kindness does begin with me.
So, I am hoping this gesture from 300 or so members of the church spreads and softens the hearts of many others who are still unintentionally hurting others. I pray that they will help my brothers and sisters who are struggling with their faith stay strong and hold on to hope. Perhaps it’s time my “Facebook friends” know that those comments they made are about me. Hopefully that will change a few hearts. Even if it doesn’t, I think it will bring a little bit more peace into my own life.
- Mormon group preaches message of acceptance in Pride Parade (fox13now.com)
- Straight Mormons to March in Salt Lake City Gay Pride Parade in Act of Reconciliation: VIDEO (towleroad.com)