When it comes to navigating the gay Mormon thing, I’ve been in many ways incredibly fortunate. When I first came out to my siblings and a couple of close friends several years ago, the response I got was largely a matter-of-fact acceptance, one that left me plenty of breathing room and no pressure—and I got similar reactions as I told more people over the years. When I publicly came out last November, the experience was mostly positive: people responded with kindness and love and support. After years of involvement in the world of Mormon blogging, I am fortunate to have a network of LDS friends who aren’t freaked out by this. And I live in what I imagine is one of the most gay-friendly stakes in the church. As Effie might say, the odds truly have been in my favor.
But despite all this, it’s an understatement to say that it’s not an easy position to be in. Sometimes it seems like I’m encountering a constant barrage of hostility—and from so many directions. There are those who’ve left the church, who are (understandably) very angry, and who are less than charitable toward those who’ve decided to stay. There are those who aren’t connected to the church who see it as the enemy and don’t understand why a gay person would have anything to do with it in the first place. There are those in the church who are flat-out and openly anti-gay; and those who claim to not be so while breathlessly warning us all of the evil gay agenda.
It is simply exhausting. And mostly, it makes me numb.
I don’t think I realized how beaten down I’ve been feeling lately until a recent evening when I was having a chat with a fellow gay Mormon about the whole Frozen brouhaha. Though I can tackle gay issues academically, unless I know people well, I tend to be wary of saying too much about where I myself am with things. Partly because it’s just personal, and partly because I’m still figuring it out—but partly also because the issue is so fraught, and I’m generally not interested in arguing, or getting bludgeoned with someone else’s idea of the right path to take. (It kind of amazes me that people who don’t know me can nonetheless confidently make declarations about what people like me should be doing.)
Anyway, I was messaging this friend. I hadn’t talked to her in years, and I don’t even know her particularly well. But she was just so kind and warm and accepting that I started to cry. Because it’s psychologically and spiritually and emotionally overwhelming to be here. In a nutshell: I don’t agree with the church’s position—but I’m still a believing member of the church. Obviously there’s nuance and complication and all of that, but that does sum things up. And it hurts, a lot, when people roll their eyes and say that I should just leave, or express pity for people like me. And it hurts, a lot, when people pay lip service to loving the sinner while making sure I know I’m condemned, or talk about gay people in ominous terms.
So as you opine about Frozen, or whatever else happens to be in the air, I’d simply say this: please remember that there are real people getting caught in the crossfire. And that claiming that you don’t mean to be hurtful can’t magically cancel out abrasive words or a dismissive tone.
Please be kind. You may have no idea how much it matters.
- 22 February 2014