By Diane Oviatt
I have lived next to San Francisco for the past thirty three years. No matter where I roam, I always know my heart is here. Then I attended Afirmacion de Mexico, and I left a giant piece of that heart in Mexico City. And there it will stay. I spent time with some amazing souls whom I will never forget. They were mostly twenty and thirty something young men, accomplished, educated and talented children of God brimming with confidence and possessed with amazing salsa dance abilities. And yet my mother heart broke for so many of them.
During a series of heart to heart conversations with several of them, I gradually learned of their struggle to be their authentic selves within the culture and religion they love. These men have mostly served honorable missions for the church, and in ward callings as well. Some have been met with harsh words and deeds by ecclesiastical leaders whom they have confided in about their sexuality. Many are not out to their parents, and it is tearing them up inside. Several came long distances by bus to participate in what became for them a weekend of freedom and unconditional love. I felt their hunger for acceptance and understanding as well as their great love for the teachings of their Savior, and I felt their sorrow at leaving the fold when the weekend came to a close.
I heard beautiful testimonies shared with such humility and vulnerability, that I thought my heart would split open. I wanted to be a mother to all of them, and was so gratified to meet two families who came to support their gay children in the face of unsupportive cultural and religious norms. These parents and siblings are heroes to me. They have love to spare.
The participants who came in spite of outright rejection by fellow church members, were stunned to hear me speak of the absolute love and support our family and our gay son have received in and out of the church in the Bay Area. I pray that my words gave them hope. I offered a place to stay to any who might be able to make it here on a future vacation. I left wishing I could scoop them all up and bring them to a place where they are loved and celebrated as they are. I left wishing I could do more. I left wanting to return. I left my heart.
Dios os acompañe hasta que nos volvamos a ver.