I’d never been involved in political causes and had never been to a political rally in Utah. That changed after 2011 when my son Grayson discovered that he was FtM transgender. I was horrified to discover that it was still legal to discriminate against my child because of his gender identity, or against others because of their sexual orientation.
My role was to strategize an approach, to implement activities that operationalized LGBT outreach in the stake. Our efforts were not without precedent – I spoke with one former Bishop who had fellowshipped gay members locally two decades earlier, and I knew a stake leadership training on the topic of homosexuality had occurred here in more recent years. I got wind of the recent Beaverton, Oregon firesides and I was an online acquaintance of Mitch Mayne, who I figured would be a source of good ideas (given his highly-publicized role in LGBT outreach as the executive secretary in his ward in San Francisco). So I solicited advice from various sources.
For those of us who are lesbian, gay, bi or transgender and LDS, it is reassuring that our Church has gone on record to stand with us against those who would bully us or discriminate against us.
This past Sunday and Monday, March 1 and 2nd, LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends gathered in the San Diego and Denver Area for what will become an opportunity for continued support to this community. One attendee stated on Facebook afterwards, “Felt the Spirit so strong at the LGBT Mormon Affirmation gathering tonight…”
Affirmation and Northstar leaders participating in the meeting committed to setting a tone of personal respect for each other, acknowledging that people of good will have personal experiences leading them to see different solutions to similar challenges. We do not have to agree with specific aspects of each other’s mission or practices in order to acknowledge the goodwill with which we each approach our purposes.
You, my friends, are where I see God’s light. For like you, God comes with no judgment of me, he loves me unconditionally and loves me for being the beautiful imperfect GAY that I am.
I wanted so badly to fix the situation. That’s what I did as a father. I fixed everything, that was my job, and this was just another “fix-it” project. At one point in our conversation, I asked; “Why would you choose this lifestyle?” I was met with a look of shock as he replied,
“Are you serious? Why on earth would I CHOOSE to be associated with one of the most misunderstood and hated groups on the planet?”
John Dehlin presented his LGBT Mormon research at Affirmation’s Annual International Conference in 2012 and received our Ally Award. This research has been a blessing to LGBT Mormons, their families and friends in helping better explain the complexities of being LGBT and Mormon. We mourn with him and those touched by his excommunication. We express our love for him and gratitude for all the work he has done and will continue to do on behalf of LGBTQ individuals.
We want to hear your stories. To hear who you are, how God speaks to you, what you need in life, how you’ve been hurt, and how you’ve healed. Whether you are an LGBT person, self-identify as queer, have a family member or child who is, or are someone who simply wants to speak out and say that they wish to see more kindness, acceptance, and understanding come from the pulpit and from our communities… we need you! Feel free to submit your stories to Affirmation at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Story Submission in the subject line.