Monday, June 13, 2016
I gasped, along with members of the media, as the death toll jumped from 20 to 50 during a press conference.
I wept as I started reading about the victims. I cried hearing about the mother who was getting text messages from her son, who later died in the attack. The victim's words "Mommy I love you" brought on so many sad, painful emotions.
I could go on and on, but I'm sure you've already read and taken in every printed and spoken word about Orlando, whether it be opinion, fact, or snarky remark on Twitter.
So let me get to my main point - please check in again on your LGBT/SSA loved ones, friends, acquaintances, enemies, etc.
Find out how they're doing. If they want to express their anger, listen. If they want a hug, give it to them. Tell them you love them. It's not a time to judge. And don't you dare use the words "Love the sinner, hate the sin" in any shape or form.
I use the word 'again' in the title of this blog post, as I first made this suggestion right after the policy change in the LDS Church. You can't compare the two events, but the repercussions among the LDS LGBT community are the same. Mohos are hurting. Mohos in the closet may be terrified at the thought of coming out. Recently out Mohos may feel unsafe as they experiment with dating in public. There are many differences of opinion and outlook when it comes to LGBT/SSA members of the church. But this is the time for everyone to come together in unity and strength - setting aside those differences.
My condolences to the family and friends of those involved in this horrible, senseless attack.
Sunday, June 5, 2016
I do not consider myself a member of the LDS Church anymore. I do not believe anymore. There is no place in the church for gay people. You may now call me an ex-Mormon. I am done.
In this post, I hope to explain my transition, plus I have a few messages for those I've followed over the years.
Simply being gay wasn't a good enough reason to leave
(Please note that these feelings I'm about to share were well before the policy change and Bednar saying I don't exist.)
I once believed that leaving the church for the sole reason of being gay was a cop out. This is why I stayed on the fence for so many years. Other gay Mormons stayed with the gospel. The gay guys were even marrying women. Why couldn't I?!
As I worked to reconcile being a believing member of the church with my attraction to men, I befriended (via email) Dad's Primal Scream. We emailed a couple times. I read, dissected, and pondered all his blog posts. I love the way he writes and his vantage point of being both gay and LDS. BUT, there was a section of his blog that I refused to touch: Why I Left Mormonism. I was so enthralled by all his other posts, I was afraid his exit story would influence me as well. I WANTED to believe in the church. I was making a huge sacrifice by squashing all these gay feelings and staying diligent to the organization I gave two years of my life for, plus many, many hours on Sundays and other random days of the week. I was happy to be a CTR-ring-wearing-Mormon (on the outside.)
Losing the faith
If you've read my blog from the beginning, you've probably noticed a change in my attitude towards my own religion. My negativity for the church and its practices has slowly increased. In the span of three years, I've gone from full activity to the church with callings, to 'taking a break,' to non believing ex-Mormon status. (I have not officially resigned yet, but plan to do so.)
The 'breaking of the shelf' is a term former Mormons use when they realize the church isn't true. I recently came to the conclusion that there's no place in the LDS Church for gay people, but I still needed that extra proof, or icing on the cake. I had to know, through my own research, the church is false. So I went back to the "Why I Left Mormonism" post by Dad's Primal Scream. I read the CES Letter. I read and had healthy discussions with the folks at the ExMormon Reddit forum - who are amazing people, BTW. Each piece of truth about the church slowly broke my shelf - leading me to where I am now - a nonbeliever. Even if I wasn't gay, I feel I'd lose my belief in the church through all the research I've done.
The change in policy was the final straw. It made me so angry. If I were closer to Utah, I would have likely participated in the mass resignation event. Even during my "break," I hoped the church would somehow make nice with us Mohos. (or simply leave us alone.) But no, for every step forward, there were 10 steps back. The church ain't true and they continue to
I AM DONE.
To the folks at Affirmation/Mormons Building Bridges/Mama Dragons
I love you all. I really do. I love that you provide a safe haven for LGBT Mormons. I love that there are straight parents defending their gay children. I love that so many of you wore rainbow ties and pins today in connection with Pride month. I love it that you come out in full force of love and support when a Moho gets kicked to the curb by their parents, or even scarier, contemplates suicide. Keep doing what you're doing.
But to those hoping to change the Brethren's mind on how the church treats/accepts gay people, I feel your words are falling on deaf ears. I know in my lifetime, nothing will change. And as we've seen in the past year, it's only gotten worse. To those who remain active AND date someone of the same sex, please choose one and forget the other. (And since my theme of this post has been there's no place in the church for gay people, I think you know where I'm going.)
To the folks at North Star
We've had a hate/strong dislike relationship over the years. The organization has some amazing members. There are also members who are self-loathing homophobes who are literally poisoning the younger members with their rhetoric. (Oh, you also have a few poster child(ren) who are doing stuff you'd probably not be happy about.) :)
I do love the fact you've slowly separated from People Can Change and other gay conversion therapies. (If I had to come up with one positive thing to say, that would be it.) But due to your indirect association with Evergreen, you will ALWAYS be seen as the group that tries to convert gay people to straight. Every time an news article is posted about North Star, there's always a comment that suggests, "aren't you guys that group that tries to change gay people to straight and encourage marriage to the opposite sex?"
In one of my first blog posts, I said a gay man should never marry a woman. I loosened my stance over the years and thought if two people truly love each other, they can do what they want. (And extra bonus points for those in a mixed-orientation marriage who can support those in a same-sex relationship.) Now I don't know what to think. What happens if the gay man married to a straight women (or gay woman married to a straight man) loses the faith like I did? Do they feel stuck in their marriage? What if they realize that gay is OK, and would rather be with someone of the same sex.
I feel North Star got a big kick in the pants after the TLC controversy, and I hope the group continues to disintegrate into oblivion. If you must find support among the LGBT Mormon community, please stick with MBB and Affirmation.
My big F-U to the LDS Church
This happened in the strangest of all places: My first real date with a guy. All my life, the church hinted homosexuality was wrong, that I wasn't supposed to have these feelings, I should suppress them and just date women. So I did. After so many years of dating the wrong gender, I had my first date with a guy in my 30s. Yes, that's right, in my freakin' 30s. F-U LDS Church.
I felt stuff I never felt before with that first dude date. I had butterflies beforehand. He got to the restaurant before me, and as I walked to the door I thought, 'Can he see me? What does he think of me? Do I look OK? Do my clothes look nice?' I felt comfortable during the date. I was able to be myself. I smiled the whole time. I felt all tingly inside. I enjoyed walking downtown after dinner. I loved chatting. I loved the genuine hug at the end. I thought about him and the date the whole drive home. I was still smiling. I loved his text at the end of the night. I loved thinking about him the next morning. Half my life I dated women, and never had one of these feelings. (In my weeks of contemplating this post, it's this paragraph that makes me the most emotional.)
At times I feel childish to put the blame on the church for keeping me from these tingly feelings. But since Mormonism had such a massive impact on my life, that yes, I do feel it's appropriate to place the blame here. F-U LDS Church.
After coming out as gay, I came out as a nonbeliever of the church. (And you thought coming out of one closet was tough!) Everyone was supportive. Some are active, some aren't. But all gave me the same love and compassion from when I came out as gay. No one told me to 'just read my scriptures and fast and pray and you'll want to go back.' It was basically, 'whatever makes you happy.' Some were surprised I lasted so long in the church. Even straight members think there's no place in the church for gay people.
I have the same feelings now that many ex-Mormons have. Life is so much better outside of the church. Gone is the stress of 3-hour meetings on Sunday and finding time to Home Teach. I now have two whole days to do whatever I want during the weekend. It's nice having that extra 10% back. I loved getting rid of garments. (I've kinda become an underwear snob now!! Makes up for nearly 13 years of wearing the same thing!) I love going out on dates with guys, and not feel the guilt and shame the LDS Church shoved at me all my life. I think it would have been difficult to rid these things "just because I'm gay." Knowing the church is a big lie made it easier (and worth it.)
Through my posts, I've made several references to "wasted time" as I sat on the fence of full LDS involvement and being gay. While I could bitch and complain about all those years of confusion, that doesn't bring me happiness. But looking ahead to the future does.
I will continue to live my life as a gay ex-Mormon. I used to only feel comfortable around other Moho's or gay ex-Mormons, but my social and dating circle has grown tremendously since leaving the church. It's nice to have conversations with people without bringing up religion.
I will continue to share my story and experiences. And as always, I'm here to chat privately about whatever is on your mind.
But if you're on the fence like I was, don't waste your time. Study the resources I used that led to my disbelief and go from there. You can do it.