Zelophehad’s Daughters

Un-Freezing

Posted by Lynnette

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.

9 Responses to “Un-Freezing”

  1. 1.

    Well said, Lynnette.

  2. 2.

    It must be unbearable to be in the crossfire. Thank you, Lynnette, for a poignant reminder about the disproportionately-borne costs of firing in defense of rightly beloved moral principles. Holding fire is where our faith lives, not in easy attestations of love for our doctrines.

  3. 3.

    Thanks Lynnette for this thoughtful reminder.

    Of late I have not had the occasion to discuss with other members the Church’s complicated relationship to gay members, but I already know what I’m going to say if someone at church sees fit to go off about how bad gay marriage is. I sorta think it is the perfect rejoinder:

    “How do you think your gay friends feel about your position?”

    Because I suspect that, for people who express such opinions, 9 times out of 10 they do not have close friends or family who are openly gay, and perhaps it will help them realize the need to move from the abstract to the concrete, to realize that there are actual people being affected by their opinions (and also that they probably need to get to know some gay people).

  4. 4.

    “Please be kind. You may have no idea how much it matters.”

    This has such depth and breadth of application in my life, especially online. I strive to be a nice person, but I am not really so very nice. I’m just as mean-hearted and leaping to judgmental conclusions as any of the pea-brains* I snark at. The only thing that can make a difference is if I consciously try to be more kind.

    Thank you for writing it and putting it into this context for me to feel it. God bless you in your uphill battles.

    (*borrowed from an obscure Sonia Johnson quote, who I used to think was Satan’s daughter but have, of late, changed my mind.)

  5. 5.

    Lovely and poignant, Lynnette. Thank you for this.

  6. 6.

    I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. It is wrong, unfair, ignorant, and bigoted. I hope it will stop soon.

  7. 7.

    Thank you, Lynette. I think we ALL so often put our ideology above our compassion. But despite differences in ideology, I resonate more with strong people like you, forced by circumstance to exercise your moral power to navigate seemingly opposing roles in your life. Living in the grey.

    I want to become a safe place for all such people, whatever their personal rock-and-hard-place, but I have such a long way to go.

  8. 8.

    “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.”

    This.

    Both because it does come back to the golden rule. And because it helps us recognize that there really is a cross-fire, which should be a perpetual reminder that there must be further light and knowledge coming.

  9. 9.

    I’ve been thinking about this post since yesterday morning—not exclusively, but often. One way of looking at my life is as a cycle of thinking I’m basically an open and loving person, encountering something or someone new and unfamiliar, discovering I’m prejudiced and judgmental, and taking a step toward greater compassion and willingness to learn from others (i.e. humility).

    I know I’m not out of this cycle yet, because I currently think of myself as basically an open and loving person. Fortunately, Lynette, there are people like you who share a perspective that I could not find on my own. I’m sorry it’s so tiring, but I do appreciate it. Very much.

Leave a Reply