17 January 2014

Tuesday's Warriors

I was dreading Tuesday. I was terrified of Tuesday. Last Tuesday I was ostracized, outcast, and oppressed. Tuesday broke me.

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.
I attend Institute at the Salt Lake City Institute at the University of Utah. Last week, when I attended my "Teachings of President Thomas S. Monson" class, I was absolutely smeared and belittled for being gay by the substitute teacher. Here's the 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.
He explained that it's the mother's responsibility to usher us into the world, and the Priesthood's responsibility to usher us into the hereafter. He talked about the Ordain Women movement, and described it as a "peculiar new idea", after which a girl spoke up and started saying that "being equal to men doesn't mean to be the same as them." Which then segued into a call to read Sherri Dew's new Book "Women and the Priesthood". Which is gross.

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.
Heavenly Mother was brought up, and the first real explanation as to why we never talk about Her was given: "It hasn't yet been revealed." It was nice to have someone say, "I don't know," rather than to divert back to the "She's too special," cop out. Katie absolutely rocked it by offering places to find information on Heavenly Mother... specifically this 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!


  1. Best words in an amazing post: "He listened." YES.

    I love that you four stood for the right, together. Bless you all!!!

  2. Ellen, this is a relief to me. I was hoping to make it up to the U and felt sorry that I didn't. I am so glad that you had not one, but three wonderful people there to support you! Keep living your truth, sister.

  3. "Maybe we should be raising and teaching our young men differently." Laura rocks! And so do you! You are a great example to me. Sometimes to preserve my mental sanity (and heart), I just don't want to go. I admire your courage and strength.

  4. good for you! And happy to hear you had support from others too.

  5. I am glad to hear you went back and were not exposed to the hatred of Elder Peters again. Here's to a class of love and not of arguing!

  6. Lev 18:22 "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." Pretty sure this is a cut and dry situation. I don't think that the church bends on something reliable like, um... I don't know, THE SCRIPTURES. You should check them out sometime.

    1. Eduardo, do you eat shellfish? Touch or eat pigs? Wear polyblend fabrics? Mix crops in you gardens/fields? I can go on if you like.

    2. Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law! I do need some advise from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

      When I burn a bull on the alter as a sacrafice, I know that it creates a pleasing odor to the Lord - Leviticus 1:9. However... the problem is my neighbors. They claim that the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

      I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

      I know I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Leviticus 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I've tried asking, but most women take offense.

      Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not to Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

      I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states that he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself? Or should I call the police and have them take care of it?

      A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Leviticus 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I do not agree! Can you settle this?

      Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the alter of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room there?

      Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27. How should they die?

      I know from Leviticus 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

      My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made from two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Leviticus 24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death as a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Leviticus 20:14)

      I know that you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's Law is eternal and unchanging.

  7. Here's a detailed scriptural analysis you might be interested in, Eduardo Lopez, the verses you refer to may not say what you think they say.

    In any case, Leviticus is part of the Law and Prophets, and thus was done away with or fulfilled by the Atonement. After the atonement we focus on loving God and loving our neighbour.
    Do you also refrain from eating shellfish? Or planting fields with mixed crops? Or two wearing fabric types together?
    Why do you think it is ok to abandon only some of the Levitical instructions and not others?

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