Affirmation held a virtual meeting of LGBTQ/SSA Mormons, Families & Friends in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage and the First Presidency letter responding to it. Participants shared experiences of family, friends and Church members and leaders responding to these events. The purpose was to learn from both positive and negative experiences, and to discuss ways to deal with stress and conflict and to engage in constructive dialog.
“I was relieved to see that the lesson did not directly attack gay relationships as a source for “the attacks on the family” but that it focused primarily on HOW to create a successful marriage. I think the teachings in this lesson are very applicable to my same-sex marriage and look forward to sharing my perspectives in Church this Sunday.” (This is part of a series of perspectives and resources for LDS Church teachers and participants who are looking for ways to teach and learn that invite LGBT individuals, their families and friends to liken the scriptures unto themselves and apply the gospel in their lives.)
‘Religious liberty’ has never meant the right of a majority religion (or religions) to impose religious practices or religious rules on non-adherents. In America, we can be sure that Catholics can’t make birth control illegal, even though they are the largest religion. We can be sure that if Muslims become a dominant religion in any community, they still can’t require all women to cover their heads or impose Sharia law. We can be sure that if Amish are a majority in some community, they can’t impose their lifestyle on non-Amish living there.
To many individuals, phrases like “strengthening and preserving the family” or “defending the family,” sound like a commonsense invocation of concern about the well-being of one of the fundamental building blocks of society. Of course we should strengthen, preserve and defend the family. However, to most gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people, and to their families and loved ones, such phrases often sound menacing and demoralizing. We are accustomed to hearing people describe the very existence of LGBT people as a threat to the family.
There are a variety of ways that folks are responding to these situations. Some are skipping lessons that have a potential to open up hurtful class discussions. Some are attending Church and finding positive ways to participate in such discussions.
One mom of a gay son has responded by writing a letter to her Sunday School teacher, urging him to take into account the effect that negative comments about homosexuality would have on her son and her family.
A year after getting divorced and not attending church, I auditioned for and got a role in the production of the San Francisco Broadway Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and was invited by my LDS ward to return and present a musical fireside on a Sunday evening. As I prepared the songs I realized there was one particular piece that stood out in my mind as being far more personal than I’d previously realized. The song is called “Unusual Way” from the musical “Nine” in which I had the opportunity of playing the lead in a local production. Every word and every line, every phrase seems to echo my exact emotion and feeling about my sojourn through Mormonism.
I am recently returned to church activity, and at times I’ve wondered whether there is a place for me among Affirmation’s brilliant collection of voices, lives, and experiences. Over the course of the Millennials Retreat, I felt a powerful new sense of belonging. Affirmation is for me, too.
Why LGBT Mormons, families and friends are marching in Pride this year! “It is a way of reaching people on the outskirts, if you will, and letting them know that as disciples of Christ, we would welcome them with open arms, just as He would. Indeed that is what this activism is about. I have seen it give young gay Mormons the will to go on, to stay alive. This is why I march.”
Members often see themselves and others as belonging to one of two tribes: The Liahonas or the Iron Rodders. Liahonas are led primarily by the Spirit, whereas the Iron Rodders are guided by the commandments. None of us are strictly one or the other, but a mixture of both with, hopefully, the wisdom to use them properly and in the right combination. Both are important. That is why we are counseled to both pray and study the scriptures regularly.