Submitted to Affirmation following The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s reversal of their November 2015 policy changes that prohibited children of LGBTQ parents from being blessed and baptized and characterized members of the church entering into same-sex marriages as apostates. These changes became known within the LGBTQ Mormon community as the “exclusion policy,” “policy of exclusion,” or “PoX.” The day after the reversal of this policy was announced, Nathan Kitchen, President of Affirmation, invited anyone willing to and share their authentic feelings and all their stories of grief, anger, relief, sadness, happiness, confusion, whatever they may be that surround the rescinding this policy. “As President of Affirmation, I want to be sure Affirmation does not hide you or your stories as we move forward,” wrote Kitchen in his invitation. If you have reactions or a story to share about the reversal of the exclusion policy, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read other stories and reactions to the reversal of the exclusion policy.
It has been a year of many changes.
For 25 years, I tried to lead a life that was not mine. I was constantly mired in sadness and despair. My attempts to restrain my feelings of attraction were unsuccessful and I did not feel that I belonged anywhere. I felt unworthy.
Some of my friends from the community confronted me, made me realize what I really wanted, and for which I would have to fight.
But unlike what many people think, I had to choose between following a path as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, homosexual frustrated and repressed, or trying to be myself, leaving aside the Church.
My internal struggle lasted several months, I even hurt others in the process, not feeling able to love fully. One foot here and another there. While everything in my head went round and round.
In my mind, in my ideal family model, I saw myself next to my partner raising my children within the Church, regardless of whether he or I were excommunicated, no matter how much rejection or how incompatible would be the training they would receive. They would be raised in the Church, the place where I grew up and for so many years I was happy.
But then the bomb dropped.
When I heard about the new policies, of which I had not heard anything about it, everything fell apart. Life, my plans, my desires. Now I imagined myself being part of a family where my children would have to explicitly reject me in order to receive the benefits that as children of God were forbidden. It broke my heart
I remember reading the position of the general leaders of Affirmation, as I remember it paraphrasing they said: “If until now the members of the Church of the LGBT community had hoped to be someday fully accepted, with this we realize that it will not happen. The Church has marked a great gap between us.”
Along with this, many LGBT members decided to leave, and no longer wanted to take their children to church.
So the gap had been marked, my plans and expectations had to change, and as an emerging LGBT member, I adapted to the changes. I constantly shared with my friends my dislike of new policies. It was something I simply could not deal with.
After joining Affirmation, I began to publicize my sexual orientation and my position in order to help others.
They are still difficult times.
I have almost completely left the Church, but I am still helping from the outside, now as an Affirmation leader. Criticism has not stopped, people talk about me, about my parents, about my family in general, after whole generations within the Church. Well, it seems that I am the first to take actions like these in the city where I live. A pioneer after all.
Just a few days after a publication I made about my attitude towards intolerance and discrimination within the Church, which had all kinds of reactions, a friend sent me the news about the recent changes in policies. She told me, “This is going to help many people who have their mind very closed give themselves the opportunity to open it a little and practice tolerance and respect. The Church is having many changes and this will surely be to improve.”
I went into shock.
At first, I felt full of happiness. It seemed to me that it was a big step towards inclusion. For the first time in a long time the children of LGBT homosexual couples or sympathizers would be blessed and baptized, regardless of the “traditions of their fathers” and they would no longer be considered “apostates for the purposes of discipline in the Church.”
But my happiness lasted very little, as the uncertainty of what to do about my future arose again in me. I had decided to separate myself completely from the Church as soon as I got married, but now I was wondering: does this change things and my outlook? Has a door been opened in the Church for me and for mine?
I am still considered a “serious transgressor”, even my children would be treated differently and would be raised in a controversial environment with a duality of beliefs.
I was urged to publicly share my opinion about it. But when I began to write, I only obtained disappointing, pitiful perspectives, only produced negative criticism towards the place that was once my home, but where I was always taught that what I feel, think and do is wrong, and I must repress or change it.
I do not believe much in doctrine, the Church, or its members. I do not know if this is a real change. I just can not imagine God saying, “do not baptize your children,” and three years later, “well, it’s okay, yes, do it.” It does not seem logical to me.
It does not seem logical to me.
While these actions place the LDS Church above others in terms of equality, tolerance, and inclusion. Despite the real benefit that it undoubtedly generates, I wonder if it is not some desperate strategy to increase membership.
So after the confusion and calm, confusion returned to my mind.
I do not speak about harm, justice, and injustice, as others have done. I speak about uncertainty.
But God willing these changes are to improve.