I received this email today from a friend. It's a forward of an email he sent to a member of his family. My friend is gay. My friend was born into a Mormon family. He has since left the church.
I asked him, today, if he still identified as Mormon.
"I attended church growing up, but I never really believed it since I was old enough to think critically about it. I believe there's the possibility of something out there, but nothing we're capable of comprehending literally"
I think his letter speaks volumes about the effect this religion has on many LGBT people born into it, into a world full of rules and laws that restrict who they are as human beings.
This is his letter------
"It's hard not to feel "judged" or "disliked" when you write things such as "Please understand that this is the plan of the same sex issue people...it is not just "acceptance", it is to silence and destroy their opposition, to redefine religion and ultimately to erode faith in an all knowing and loving God," being fully aware that I fall into this category. Your own words do nothing but show your disdain for me and the rest of the gay community, including those completely comfortable with their sexuality and their Christianity. There's even those who struggle to maintain their sexuality as well as their LDS-upbringing, generally to the detriment of both. I feel pity for those that are so conflicted. Your own words, were they to be read by a teenager struggling with this issue and had respect for you, would be put in danger of taking their own life. It's not surprising, yet so tragic, that Utah leads the nation in suicides for boys at this difficult time (15-24). http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,635201873,00.html How many of them do you think are children of people who feel and speak just the way you do? Empathy is not something native to many Mormons, more like "our way or the highway" (as evidenced by my brother who referred to those in disagreement with the Church's standing on Prop 8 as "not true Mormons."
To clarify why I may not speak to you respectfully, it's because in these and many ways I don't have much respect for you. Your words are dangerous to those who are most vulnerable. I'm on a couple social sites that are geared specifically towards gays/lesbians. I make it clear in my profile that I was born and raised Mormon, and at least once a month or two I get someone from somewhere in the country who messages me struggling with the very issues I described above, asking for my advice and how I got through it. I feel bad I can't help them more, since my journey coming out was much easier, since I had gotten over the whole "burning in hell" thing years before. And no, I don't automatically advocate them leaving the church and say that they'll for sure feel much better once they do. I can't wait for the day when they don't have to go through this at all, because I believe the church will rescind their policy of discriminating against their gay and lesbian members (just like they changed their policy about "dark-skinned people"). After all, it's all about gaining more members, and if a policy, such as doctrinated racism, becomes unpopular to the public, then the Chuch will eventually change their stance. And once again, the Church will do a fantastic job of re-writing their own history to their members to make them feel comfortable that it was never an issue at all. No one will have the need to "redefine religion" because the church will do it itself in order to survive in a more progressive world.
If you had the heart to listen to these kids, I don't see how you could possibly feel like this is just some "choice" that one day people wake up and decide they want to try... For most it's years of confusion, fighting it, guilt, religious contradiction, and fear of abandonment by those who claim to love them. Some of these kids become adults who get married and have children, being told by church leaders that once they're married these feelings will just go away. This horrid policy that was the norm 10-30 years ago is destroying families all over. After all, it's no longer just the husband/wife that becomes affected, it's their spouse and children. Luckily that policy changed, and now (from what I hear from these kids and adults still attending church) bishops tell them to remain celibate until they "get over it." Though still a sad, impossible mandate, at least it allows the person time to figure it out on their own before jumping the gun and getting involved with someone else.
I truly wish you had to go through what the "not true Mormon" parents of gays and lesbians did, and their conflicts with loving their children and still feeling part of the LDS Church (or hey, even the ones who did decide to abandon their child; I'm sure even most of them felt it was a difficult choice). After all, hearts and minds are softened one by one, as the general public discovers more and more that they are close to someone who is gay. As much as you like to believe in these "umbrella gay groups" that tell me how to think and behave, I don't need to be told that I want to be with someone I love and cherish, or that I would like to be accepted fully by family. Neither do the rest of the gays and lesbians, at any point in their life. If you were capable of thinking about gays and lesbians as fellow human beings (brothers, sisters, parents, children, best friends, coworkers, etc.) rather than "same sex issue people," you would know it too."