by Hugo Salinas
Why are so many LDS bishops overweight? How come so many of us fail to see exercise and diet as part of the Word of Wisdom? And more importantly, which are the parts of the Word of Wisdom that I need to focus on in order to live a healthier life?
Affirmation has a history of raising awareness about health issues. Two of the earliest issues of our newsletter specifically addressed the epidemic of suicide among gay Mormons–an issue that unfortunately has not gone away. Depression has been discussed in our newsletter, in our conferences, and on our website. We have been raising HIV/AIDS awareness since November 1983.
In 1997, we began to place special emphasis on health among gay Mormon youth. In a statement which was added to our bylaws that year, Affirmation declared that “health and wellness is possible for Mormon affiliated GLBTQ people of all ages who accept themselves.” What a remarkable statement! Has accepting the fact that you are gay made you a healthier person? As an out and proud gay or lesbian, have you considered the implications that the Word of Wisdom could have in your life today? Have you ever thought, for instance, that if you are sexually active, safer sex could well be the most important part of your observance of the Word of Wisdom?
Today we know that there is a direct correlation between self-esteem and safer sexual practices. In other words, people who are out and proud are more likely to practice safer sex. This same group of people are less likely to feel depressed and attempt suicide. Organizations such as Affirmation can have a tremendous role in promoting GLBT health, because they provide a safe place for gays and lesbians to come out, to affirm their self-esteem, and to develop healthy interpersonal relationships.
We have recently launched an area on the Affirmation website that deals with GLBT health: www.affirmation.org/health. It includes links to health resources and explores some issues that apply specifically to us, such as the Word of Wisdom and suicide prevention and awareness. Please visit this area of the website and send us suggestions on how to improve it. Consider sending us a short personal essay with examples of some of the things that have helped you as a Gay Mormon improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
Finally, one word about spiritual health and the LDS Church: As with many other anti-gay churches, you may someday decide that the Mormon Church is no longer a healthy place for you. If the time comes for you to quit going to church, do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Come to Affirmation; continue cultivating spiritual practices; consider attending a gay-friendly church. People who in engage in spiritual and religious practices are healthier, happier, and live longer than those who don’t.
Without overweight bishops to emulate, some Mormons have even been known to shed a few pounds, getting one step closer to that celestial body that we will all one day enjoy 😉