Singing at church a decade after being told I couldn’t as a gay man
by Rance Wright
I was asked recently to share my thoughts about being given the chance to sing at church. And why after 9-10 years of being told by church leaders that I was not worthy due to my openly gay lifestyle was it such a huge deal to me. Here is a small glimpse into that moment for me.
First off, yes it was a big deal to me, for everything about my testimony in my life has been based on music. I feel God near when I sing. I know that He exists through this higher talent I’ve been given through voice. About 9-10 years ago when I was being dis-fellowshipped from the church for living an active gay lifestyle, one of the stake high councilors in the St. George East Stake knew my love for singing and told me that continuing to perform would only assist in me being gay. He decided that I should not be allowed to sing as long as I was actively pursuing the gay lifestyle. All the council heard, and I was told, was that I could no longer sing in church. He told me that gay men are mostly found in my choice of career. We all know how that is NOT true. I knew at that moment that what he was saying was not of God. So my faith in my church leaders began to dwindle. I started to lose faith. And in a way, I started to lose sight of God.
As I child I was molested by my Scoutmaster, so this hasn’t helped the cause at all. It has confused my very core as a human being. I got involved in drugs, alcohol, and wild behaviors sexually. I was seeking any form of acceptance and love. And I most definitely could not find it in the Mormon Church. I still can’t find it in the Mormon Church sadly. They have created no guidance or hope for gays.
When I sang two weeks ago at the Single Adults Branch in New York City…it was as if the audience was given a glance into the last 20 years of my life. The moment I opened my mouth and began to sing (cry/speak) these words “Where can I turn for peace…” I literally asked that of God. For twenty years I have literally been without. Throughout the piece, it got stronger and stronger, for I felt the support of my friends. After I was done, there were many eyes filled with tears. I turned to exit the podium and was asked by the stake councilman to stay and share why this moment touched me so deeply. I started with, “Well, I’m gay,” and shared a simple story.
That day, nearly 32 friends of mine from Affirmation and all walks of life came in support of this major moment in my life. We doubled the attendance at that branch that day. I can never thank my friends and Jon Pinney enough for sharing this beautiful day with me. You, my friends, are where I see God’s light. For like you, God comes with no judgment of me, he loves me unconditionally and loves me for being the beautiful imperfect GAY that I am. God speed dear friends.