25 August 2013

"Why Are You Mormon?"

"Why are you Mormon?" I get this question a lot... And I get it from both sides of the aisle. From the left, I'm asked, "Why are you Mormon? Why do you put up with being called a sinner? Why do you affiliate with a church that hates you and belittles you?" From the right, I'm asked, "Why are you Mormon? Why do you continue to affiliate with this Church when you refuse to follow the words of the Prophets? Why do you continue to sin? You obviously don't understand what the Gospel means."

Some people on the left believe that because I am a Mormon, it makes me less of a lesbian. Some people on the right believe that because I am a lesbian, it makes me less of a Mormon. Both are wrong. I'm gay. I'm Mormon. I make no apologies for that. And I am not ashamed of who I am.

You want to know why I'm Mormon? I'm Mormon because I want to be. I'm Mormon because it makes me a better person. I'm Mormon because I follow the word and teachings of Christ. I'm Mormon because I believe it's what God wants for me. I'm Mormon, because nothing the Church does or says could make me want to leave. I'm Mormon because it's true. 

I'm not leaving. I cannot deny what I know to be true. So take that, and if you disagree, you can shove it where the sun don't shine.

17 August 2013

To See The Face Of God

How many of you have heard a story of a family kicking their kid out of the house because they found out their son or daughter was gay or transgender? How many stories have you heard about a teenager or young adult committing suicide... And finding out that the primary reason was because they were gay?

How many of them were Mormon?

The more I ponder this horrendous trend in the culture of my faith, the more I ponder this question: How can the "true church" of Christ, with their beliefs, practices, and doctrines contribute to so many suicides and homeless teenagers?

There's really no good answer. A lot of Mormons I know would answer with something like this, "The Church is true, but the people are NOT!" In it's most simplistic form, this statement would be correct. But the problem appears when we notice that it has become culturally acceptable to interpret the statement, "I know the Church is true," to mean "I know the Church leaders and membership are always perfect." They are far from equivalent.

So the question really is more like this: Is it the doctrines of the Church that contribute to suicides and homelessness? Or is it the culturally accepted beliefs of the members and leadership?

While the Church's doctrine and beliefs are not directly to blame, it is dishonest not to acknowledge that the Church has policies about LGBT people that have caused deep despair, as well as emotional and spiritual harm. Add in the human interpretation of these policies, and you have a very unstable mental and emotional compound.

We are taught that the family is the foundation of the Plan of Salvation, and that the only place more sacred than the temple is the home. Yet parents are cutting their kids out of their families in the name of purity and righteousness, and are using these doctrines and policies to justify their actions.

The Church came out with the website mormonsandgays.org in late 2012. While this is far short of what most LGBT Mormons and their allies need from the Church, it is the first small step towards love, acceptance and equality for the LGBT Mormon community.

While I have mixed feelings about the site in general, I have pulled some good out of it. Elder Quentin L. Cook has a video interview that's towards the middle of the page, and he says some really great things. This quote warms my heart, "[As] a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be a part of the family circle. [Let] us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. I'm sorry, I feel very strongly about this as you can tell. I think it's a very important principle." Elder D. Todd Christofferson also does a video interview, near the top, about the purpose of the website, "You'll see in these experiences that some people state what you could call the position of the Church—it coincides perfectly—and others not. But again, they're all very authentic, and as we listen to one another and strive to understand, things can only get better." This quote stood out to me because he is acknowledging that there are people in the Church who have chosen a different path than what the Church teaches, and he acknowledges those experiences and feelings as authentic.

This is coming from the mouth of two men we sustain as Apostles of the Lord, and personally, two of my favorite General Authorities. But because mormonsandgays.org  isn't listed on the Church's official website lds.org, no one knows about it. So can we place all of the blame on the members and local leadership for the hurtful rhetoric they teach? No. Because no one has taught them otherwise.

As members of the LGBT community, and as allies of this community, we need to bring attention to the site (even with all its flaws). We need to tell people in our Sunday School classes, Relief Society, Elder's Quorum, Young Men's and Young Women's to cut the crap when they talk badly about homosexuality and gay people. We need to correct them, and tell them about the Church's website when they believe that Church doctrine and policy allows them to hold such hurtful opinions. We, as the membership of the Church, need to speak out about against kicking children out of their homes. We need to reach out to those who are marginalized, and hurt. We need to offer a hand of friendship to those in need. We need to consciously ask ourselves in every situation, "What would Jesus do?" 

Because when we love another, we see the face of God.

11 August 2013


What do you do when Heaven is silent? When God simply doesn't answer a prayer? We're taught in Church that God will always answer our prayers. That not one goes without consideration. Sometimes the answer is yes... you pray to find your keys, and the next table you look under, voila! there they are. Sometimes the answer is yes, but in the most frustrating ways... "Sure... I'll help you find your keys... keep looking, I'll make you remember this experience." This is probably the most common answer, at least it is for me. Sometimes we are so hurt and upset that we can't recognize His comforting hand on our shoulder, and I think that is common for everyone. Sometimes the answer is no, "Nice try... This is the tenth time this week. You're on your own kid." But what happens when there's silence?

About a year and a half ago, I was taking a Statistics class. I studied hard, and spent hours with tutors. But Math has never been my strong point, and I struggled with even the most basic concepts. The night before my final exam, I knelt down and prayed that I could pass... even telling Him that a C- would suffice (C 's get degrees after all...) But I felt nothing. Not a yes, not a no... just empty space. I didn't know what it meant, but I got up and went to bed anyway.

I failed my exam. With flying colors.

I personally believe that silence is the "answer" when our hearts are closed to what God could say. I limited God. I doubted His power and influence. If we doubt (consciously or unconsciously) that God can actually answer our prayers, then He'll be silent. It takes two to tango.

That doesn't mean that if we have perfect faith that God will answer our every prayer, that He will do so. I can't tell you how many times I have begged and pleaded with God to help me find my car keys. His answer? "You're on your own with this one kid... this is the 10th time this week." God doesn't answer our prayers in the way we want Him to... That's the beauty of it. He makes us think; He makes us learn. Our Heavenly Parents are just that... parents. They will help us learn. But sometimes, it means teaching us a lesson... and that lesson is to put your keys back where they belong, otherwise you'll be ten minutes late for work.

It's not just the general membership that have silent prayers every once in a while... It's the Brethren too. I used to work with a guy who is one of President Monson's grand kids. He asked President Monson one day if he and the Brethren had prayed about homosexuality in the Church. And they have. They pray in their room in the temple, and they haven't received an answer. Not yes, not no... just silence. Why is this? I believe that it is because some/most/all of the Brethren have a bias... They believe that they are already right, and that they don't need to be praying about it. But instead of getting the instantaneous "yes" answer that they are looking for... it's absent. Gone.

I don't know about anyone else... but it gives me hope.

10 August 2013


I have a new job. I have a new car (as of three hours ago!) I'm making more money, and I have good benefits. I have a way to pay for the rest of my college education, and I don't have to pinch pennies to get by. I should be happy right?

I have God, I have the scriptures. I go to Church (mostly), and I'm starting to pay my tithing again. And I'm technically celibate, because I have no desire to be with anyone but Melissa. I'm doing everything that a gay Mormon is taught to do to achieve eternal happiness. But am I happy? Not in the slightest.

I keep going back and forth between believing that I'll be happier if I'm celibate and alone. On one hand, there's the Church. If I'm celibate and repentant, then I'm worthy in God's eyes. If I'm worthy, I can hold callings, I can take the Sacrament, and I can go to the temple and receive my endowment. I would be clean and pure.

But on the other hand, I'm starting to believe that my life is too much of a disaster to keep anyone important in my life. My parents left, and took my siblings with them. I still keep in touch with most of my extended family, but because of the chasm between my parents and I, and because of the 2,000 miles separating us, I don't go home. Because of all my family baggage, and my emotional baggage thanks to wilderness and treatment, I tend to not keep relationships well. I bottle everything up inside, or I hide the particularly painful details, and then defecation hits the oscillation.

So is this a win-win? Or is it just another disaster?

05 August 2013

Journal Entry, 12 November 2011

Today I envy the heterosexual. I envy being "normal". I envy being wholesome and clean. I envy the girls that swoon over men like Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I envy the desire to date men. I envy the 95%.

I want to find men attractive. I want to view sex with men as enticing, and desirable. I want to find a temple worthy man to see me as an elect daughter of God. I want to have butterflies in my stomach when a guy smiles at me. I want to blush, and have that cute embarrassed look on my face. But I don't. I have the shame in the pit of my stomach instead.

I love Grey's Anatomy. It's my absolute favorite TV show. I wish that I could be Meredith Grey. She's straight, and she's beautiful. Meredith is awesome. Being straight is awesome. But I'm not Meredith. I'm not awesome. And I'm not straight.

The Mormon universe and the Gay universe swirl and collide in my head. They try to mix, but they are like oil and water. They touch, but they aren't the same. One is less than the other.

Why would God do this to me? Was I rebellious in the Pre-Mortal life? Was I displeasing to God? Am I unnatural? Am I sinful? I'm a virgin... But I'm considered to be immoral and virtue-less. How can I be immoral if I'm a virgin? How could I have lost my virtue if it's still physically (and emotionally) intact? Does God hate me?

I can't change. It's not lack of willpower. It's not lack of faith, or trust in God. I wasn't abused as a child, and I had good parents. Parents who didn't understand me, but they were good parents. They didn't do anything to make me the way I am. But I did. I ruined my life before it even started.

Should I end it in the same fashion?

03 August 2013

Sheep To Slaughter

I'm unorthodox. I am a headstrong, independent woman. I don't let people limit me. And I don't let people push me around. Ever.

I'm unorthodox. don't fit molds. I don't fit stereotypes. I don't conform for the sake of conforming, nor do I stay silent for the sake of ease and comfort for those around me. If things seem just a little too "agreeable", I'm the first person to step in and offer another opinion. I'm not afraid to shake things up and ruffle feathers. I'm the kind of person who throws rocks into calm waters... Just for the sake of balance. 

I'm unorthodox. I take a lot of flak for the opinions I hold, and the things I write about. I'm called an apostate on a regular basis. I'm told I'm wrong, and sometimes am refused the opportunity to defend myself and my opinions.

All of these things above? Not typical for Mormons. I like to equate Mormons with Hobbits from the Shire. We are gentle people, but we crave adventure (And we have second breakfast at the meetinghouse for "Linger Longer").

But on a basic level I disagree. Being unorthodox shouldn't be unorthodox. None of those things I used to describe myself contradict my religion. How do I know? I study the Scriptures. I follow the Spirit. And I ask the Spirit for confirmation  in just about everything.

Not to mention that you can successfully argue that Christ was the most unorthodox and influential anarchist of His time.

I'm here to offer people another opinion. I'm here to say, "Follow the prophet, but take your blinders off!" Ask the Holy Ghost for confirmation when you listen to General Conference, or read Ensign articles. Ask of God. Do not blindly follow.

The Lord is our shepherd, and we are His sheep. In John 10:14-15, we hear Christ teach this, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." He is central to this Church. But, as a Church, do we follow Christ? Do we strive to be Christ-like in everything that we do? Do we treat others like we would like to be treated? Do we ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?"


In this April's Priesthood session of General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave an amazing talk. Let me pull a couple of quotes from his address: 
"Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son from his father. Even identical twins are not identical in their personalities and spiritual identities.
It also contradicts the intent and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency—with all it's far-reaching consequences—of each and every one of God's children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God's commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences.
The Church thrives when we take advantage of this diversity and encourages each other to develop and use our talents to lift and strengthen our fellow disciples." 
We try to limit God. We try to constrain His infinite glory and compassion by singling out those who are different. As we saw this month with the New York Times article about the former Area Seventy Hans Mattsson, we demonize those who doubt, especially when they publicly voice their doubts. We demonize feminists, because they challenge the patriarchal society that has dominated for the last 2,000 years. We demonize homosexuals, because we have been taught that their sexual identity is "impure and unnatural".
Most people have read "The Wizard of Oz". Do you remember when Dorothy and her crew arrive in the Emerald City? They were issued glasses with green lenses, to hide the true colors of the city. 

You don't have to accept the green glasses that you are issued. You don't have to accept the "approved" version of the Church's history and doctrine. It is ok to ask questions. It's ok to doubt. Because sure... The Church looks so much more appealing through the lenses. But it's devastating when you find out that its not what it seemed to be.

Take off your blinders. Take off the glasses. Ask the Holy Ghost for guidance. Ask God to confirm what you are taught.

Because if we don't, we're just sheep to slaughter.