Barb Young Speaks at the Conference of Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends
“You have to put up with so much. You have risen up despite the adversity, despite the ignorance. You have risen up and you represent Love with a capital ‘L.’”
14 September 2013
A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Barb Young shared a powerful message of hope and reconciliation on September 14, 2013, at the annual conference of Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends.
“This is how I feel about my LGBT brothers and sisters—all of you,” Barb declared. “You have to put up with so much. You have risen up despite the adversity, despite the ignorance. You have risen up and you represent Love with a capital ‘L.’
“You are fighting for Love. You have so much left to give, and many of you have been deprived of the love you deserve. I admire you. You got to the fire, fire that shouldn’t even be there, and nonetheless you’re here, surviving, thriving, like a Phoenix from the flames.”
Here's Steve's introduction followed by Barb's full remarks:
I want to further introduce my wife, just because I… because I want to. First I want you to know how much I love her. And I want you to also know how deeply connected she is to you. There is not a day that goes by that you are not on her mind. She has spent countless hours advocating for you. And literally, she cannot contain her enthusiasm. I think that she has a wand, that she, walks up to every human being that she meets, and it goes over them and checks them for a heart for her gay brothers and sisters. There is not a place where she isn’t spreading love for you. And I’m saying this because there’s a strong possibility – better than fifty fifty – that she’s gonna come up, and start weeping, and can’t stop. So, (unclear) I’m an old Boy Scout, be prepared, I’m just telling you… so you know her, so if she just cries for fifteen minutes and closes… you’re like, Oh, I’m sure Steve gave us an insight into who she is. So anyway, here’s my wife Barb.
Wow. We’re here. (Laughs). (Unclear) start crying… I have to take in this moment because if you’d have told me that we would be here, in Utah, at this conference, two months after the Supreme Court killed DOMA and Prop 8…
Thank you honey, because you were there, you were supporting me, you were holding my big pregnant belly as I sobbed for hours, every day, for months and months during that time. And I also want to thank Carol Lynn Pearson… because there are a lot of people who are on the front of this movement, that I call the love movement, who have dedicated their lives to this movement. And who have been instrumental in my life and there’s three in particular. Bob Rees. Joanna Brooks. And Carol Lynn Pearson, who is my spiritual matriarch, mentor. She is my angel here on earth and she is many of your angels too. So thank you Carol Lynn.
I must admit I was nervous and a little intimidated to come up here. I’m not a professional speaker, like my husband, you see the way he can work a crowd. I’m not a professional writer, like Carol Lynn. But what I have is passion. And a lot of it, for my LGBT brothers and sisters. So please forgive me if I stumble but know that this talk is coming from my heart.
I grew up in Arizona in a really small family, just one brother. And yes, he is gay. Everyone tried to make that a point to justify my stance during Prop 8. In fact it was funny because someone wrote about my involvement with No On 8 on Steve’s Wiki page and said “She has only one brother and he is gay.” And my brother thought that was so funny. He was like, Oh My Gosh, I’m famous, I made it to the Wiki page.
They’ve taken it off but to this day he would call me and say: “It is I, your only brother, who is gay.” But just for the record, I want you all to know, that whether I had a gay brother or not, my stance would have been the same. I still would have done the right thing. And he does have a name. His name is Michael.
Mike and I grew up… we loved musicals, we grew up dancing all around the house, one day we were the Van Trapp kids, the next day we were the Jets, We were everyone from Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Horace in Hello, Dolly!... I mean we loved musicals. But what’s funny…
Now I--my whole family, they’re not Mormon, I’m a convert. So my non-Mormon brother’s favorite musical growing up – of all the musicals – was Saturday’s Warrior. You should have seen the look on Steve’s face when my brother made that announcement and started singing “Who are these…”, I can’t sing, (sings). He loved it, and they bonded. They bonded over Saturday’s Warrior.
When Steve and I got married, my brother got up to give his toast. And knowing that he had just lost his dance partner to another, he choked up, and looked Steve in the eye, and made him promise that he would always dance with me. But now, off course, Steve is stuck doing the Time Warp. For Time and All Eternity.
You did’t hear what he just said, he said ‘It’s just a jump to the left’.
My brother is the most amazing human being that I know. Forgive me I’m about to brag. He speaks five languages, he plays numerous instruments, he graduated top of his class, he got his Law degree at Georgetown, he sings in the Gay Men’s Chorus of LA, he’s a a corporate trial attorney and yet he manages to do every single flash mob. If you’ve seen it on TV, he has been there.
So, again, I apologize for bragging. But you have to understand, he has been my inspiration, my whole life.
And also, all of that was a little bit of a plug because, now that Benji is single, and my brother needs a husband… Did you hear the part about the flash mob? He dances. We can talk about that later.
Speaking of my brother and he needs a husband, I have a cute story. My children… My oldest son Braden, my brother was visiting. And we were on the couch and we were talking and my son at the time was only 8 years old. He was doing some kind of project, right below us. And without even looking up he said ‘Uncle Mike, I like that you’re the only uncle on my Mom’s side.’ And he said, ‘Oh, thanks Braden.” And then he looked up and said: ‘But one day, we’re hoping that there will be two.’
I am one of those people that loves every gay person that I meet. Seriously. I am one of those. My friends always tease me because if there’s a gay person on a reality show, they’re like ‘Oh we know who you want to win’. I admit it, there’s a reason for it, outside of the fact that generally they’re just smarter, more talented. I know the stereotype but I find it to be true so I’m sticking with it.
But really, it is the same reason that, when I was a little girl, I used to cry every time I saw a biracial couple. It was the most beautiful vision. Even as a little girl, I got it. Back then you didn’t see it enough, so whenever I did, I would cry happy tears. Why? Because I love when love wins. I love when love conquers all.
This couple’s love for one another has defied all the bigots, the ignorant haters. Despite having people’s strong judgements against them – and what they believe is right or wrong – this couple has risen up, in love. To me, they were a shining example of love’s triumph over hate. Love always wins.
This is how I feel about my LGBT brothers and sisters. All of you. You have had to put up with so much. You have risen up despite the adversity. Despite the ignorance. You have risen up and you represent love with a capital ‘L’.
You are fighting for love. You have so much love to give. And many of you have been deprived of the love you deserve. I admire you. You’ve gone through the fire – fire that shouldn’t even be there… and (unclear) right here: surviving, thriving. Like a phoenix from the flames.
So yes, every gay person I meet I love. And every reality TV gay person, gay player, is someone that I vote for. Because they’ve gone deep, and they’ve discovered a love for themselves. And it’s a wonderful love to give, and to receive.
Now if you’re a biracial gay couple on a reality show...
This I know. You, my LGBT brothers and sisters, Mormon or not, chose or were chosen to be born at this time, for this lesson, for humanity. Just like the Freedom Riders or those who marched with Martin Luther King were born at that time. You were chosen to do the work of the Lord for this time. You were chosen to raise the spiritual consciousness of this time. You’re the teachers, the leaders, the warriors. You are raising the spiritual consciousness of your family, of your church, of the community of the world.
It’s already happening, we’re seeing it all around us. I mean, did you see the Home Depot proposal here in Salt Lake City?
That would have never happened five years ago, it’s incredible. If you haven’t seen it you have to check it out on YouTube. Home Depot. Proposal.
Even if your own family isn’t responding, the people around them are. The pace is quickening. More and more people are having their open hearted AHA moments, every day. Just by being present, just by being you, you are teaching and changing the people around you. To go deep. To understand you. To understand themselves. And in the end, really understand the work of Jesus and His infinite, infinite love, for all of us.
This generation of lesbian, bi, gay and transgender men and women are teaching humanity Jesus’ most basic lesson: We must love one another. That we must embrace our differences as positives. That we must raise each other up and glorify one another. And many are learning that our response to those around us is a reflection of where Jesus lives in our hearts. Let me say that again: Our response to those around us is a reflection of where Jesus lives in our hearts.
Jesus is saying it is not enough to love Him. But our love for Him is to be reflected in our love for each other.
I feel honored and blessed to have my brother, and many gay friends, in my life. I’m better for it. And I know all the hetero families and allies out there know what I’m talking about.
I have to admit, my evolution was rather quick. My brother came out to me when I was eighteen. He was very nervous. Very calm. Trying to make sure that everything was gonna be okay. And he came out to me. And off course, my hormonal teenage response to him was: Cool. Let’s go scam on some guys.
And (unclear) up to the message. But we must be patient with those around us who haven’t quite… don’t know what it means… and they haven’t quite gotten the Christian message yet. I have to remind myself every day not to get frustrated with people that I run across. So they get it. You can’t take someone from kindergarten and expect them to graduate from high school.
So we learn to be patient. Like Jesus. We wait with open arms. And we let people do their evolution. I’m telling you this as much as I’m telling myself this. Because when everyone else is talking about building bridges, I’m one of those people that want an earthquake to come and put together the landmasses so we don’t need a bridge anymore.
But I do understand that we have to love people through their process and through their evolution. There’s a Buddhist saying: I am daily making myself what I am. We aren’t who we were ten years ago, or even ten minutes ago. We’re all in a constant state of evolution. This goes for everyone and everything around us. Communities and institutions are always evolving. This Church is always evolving.
It is actually one of the most beautiful things about this Church, is that it can evolve. So many churches have not made (unclear) that the best kind of spiritual growth happens. In some ways they’re kinda stuck.
Okay. So it’s not going as fast as we want it to go. But it is evolving and we’re seeing the spiritual consciousness being raised. So hold on, because I believe it’s going to get really good.
I have a beautiful story I want to share with you, about a dear friend during Prop 8. Her name is Carrie. Carrie was on the same page as me, at least I thought. She had a very near dear nephew, who was gay. So you can imagine my surprise, when late into Prop 8 I spotted her name on the Yes On 8 Donor list. Yes. I’m one of those that checked the list.
I went to her that Sunday and just looked at her, and she knew… I just looked at her, like, are you kidding me?
And those of you from California can remember, there was kind of a glaze that went over everyone’s eyes during that time. I look back and I think they had it to make themselves numb – for what they were doing. And I was going around: Jesus, remember Jesus… Jesus.
And she had that look. She couldn’t give me a reason. She was kind of mumbling.
So a few weeks later, the vote comes and Prop 8 passes. And Carrie wakes up, and locks herself in the bathroom. And she’s sobbing. And her family can’t get her out of the bathroom. She woke up.
And she is in there with the telephone and no one can get her out. And she calls her neighbors. This wonderful lesbian couple raising young children, who lived across the street. And they said: Carrie, come out of the bathroom. Let’s meet halfway.
And so they did. And they met right there in the street. And Carrie fell to her knees, and said: please forgive me. I’m so ashamed. I am so ashamed. And you know what they said to her?
They didn’t say: Gee. Our children walked past your sign. Every day. Cried at school. Only to walk home every day from school. And cry themselves to sleep. Every night. They didn’t say that.
They didn’t say: Well, a little too late now. The vote was yesterday. NOW you’re doing this?
They picked her up. They held her. And they said: Carrie. What matters is this moment, right now. This moment is what matters. We love you. And we forgive you. This moment. Right now.
Makes me cry every time.
Couple of months later, Carrie came over and she had a book, that this couple had written about the whole Prop 8 experience. It’s a children’s book, so it was about their children. And Carrie opened the book and she turned to the page where she is pounding in the sign in her yard. And the children are walking past to school. And they’ve got that sad, confused look on their face. And she turns to the page, she points at her, on this page, and with tears streaming down her face she whispers: ‘I can’t believe that was me. I can’t believe that was me.’ And then I held her, and there was something so beautiful, about watching her go through those labor pains, to give birth, to a most incredible heart. Her evolution.
Love always wins.
I want to close, by thanking you again for giving us this opportunity to speak to you. It really was a dream come true. But I want to leave you with this thought:
If we consciously embrace Jesus’ teaching of compassion, empathy, love, patience and forgiveness, the future will be incredibly different, than if we don’t.
I give you my love, and my blessings. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.