But this Tuesday... Tuesday was to be the day that I stood up to my fears. Tuesday was to be the day that I stood up to my oppressors. Tuesday was to be the day that I stood up for myself.
It turned out to be so much more.
story. I was scared to go back... I was so excited for this class, and now I'm fighting with myself to go. It shouldn't be that way.
I sent out a cry for help to Mormons Building Bridges, Young Mormon Feminists, Affirmation Millennial's, and Feminist Mormon Housewives on Monday. Dozens from out of state sent their love and their prayers. Others got a hold of family members that live in Salt Lake to see if they could attend with me. All in all, three people were able to make it to my class: Andrew, Laura, and Katie.
Andrew and I arrived together, and set up shop in the front corner of the classroom. A few minutes after class started, Laura came in. We didn't know each other until that day, so she stood in the back and said, "Is Ellen here? I'm looking for Ellen." Very timidly, I rose my hand and said, "I'm Ellen." And she came right over, full of self confidence and spunk, and kicked Andrew right out of his seat! He was a great sport, and Laura was thrilled to see that he was there for me too. She introduced herself and gave me a hug, and then let class continue. A few minutes later, Katie came in. I waved her over, and she came to sit right behind me. My army had arrived. I felt safe. I had the strength to speak my truth.
The lesson was a crap fest. Very traditional, orthodox Mormon. The class focus is supposed to be the Teachings of President Monson, and yet, the only thing discussed about him was the age change for missionaries. I brought up how wonderful it was to see more Sisters entering the mission field. Brother Butler agreed with me, and suggested that it was divinely inspired to "level the playing field" between the men and the women. His logic was that educated, professional women intimidate the men, and therefore encourage them to be lazy and play video games all day.
Laura, in all her Mormon Feminist glory, spoke up and asked, "Why is it a problem for women to be professional and have careers? Why is it a problem for them to own their home or condo? Why are these young men intimidated? Maybe we should be raising and teaching our young men differently."
Next up was the equating argument between Motherhood and the Priesthood. Laura countered and explained that Fatherhood = Motherhood; Priesthood is an entirely different thing. While Brother Butler stepped back to clarify that he meant it in more of a metaphorical way, he never backed off of the comparison.
The argument about how Satan hates family was brought up often. How he continually attacks the institution of the family (though he never brought up LGBT families, which I consider a win), and the divine role of women. He hates women because he will never have an eternal family with a wife and children. It was certainly an explanation that I had never heard before, and it certainly raised a few eyebrows, even if they were just from the four of us.
BYU Study. Once he realized that he had a handful of Feminists in the room, he said that he was open to difficult discussions, and topics.
To end the lesson, we went over a timeline of the big moments of President Monson's life and ministry. We closed with a prayer and a hymn, and then the rest of the class dispersed. Katie, Andrew and Laura all stayed behind with me so I could talk to Brother Butler about the concerns I had from last week. He was already aware of mormonsandgays.org, and he didn't erase it from the board after I wrote it there. He listened intently while I told him about the collapse of my mission, and the affirming experience I had in the Temple that brought me out of the deep depression I had slipped into. He listened to what Elder Peters had said and done last week, and he welcomes the fact that I'm outspoken, and that I will stand up for the things that I believe in. We'll see if he really wants what he's going to get...
All in all... the Thomas S. Monson class is going to be the most challenging class. But the Women and the Gospel: Eternal Perspectives class... the class that I was convinced was going to be a shit show... is going to be my salvation. That class is at 7:30 in room W003. Please come and experience the awesome. I'm going to start blogging about that class too, so stay tuned!