by Blaire Ostler
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.
Within regards to the most recent policy changes, there are some things I’d like you to know.
Please know that queer folks have been deeply injured by the Policy of Exclusion (POX) and so far as I’m concerned queer folks can take all the time we need in processing these most recent changes. These policies aren’t just theory or tangential for us. They are lived experiences for us and our children.
Please know, for some queer folks, this is a textbook abusive relationship. The abuser hits you, then they do something remorseful. They hit you again a few days later, then do something remorseful. Round and round we go. The queer community is experiencing whiplash. Allies, please be sensitive that when you celebrate the remorse of our abuser (which isn’t inherently wrong in and of itself) it feels like you forgot we are still healing from the last time they hit us.
Please know you don’t get to tell a victim of abuse when it’s time to forgive, move on, and celebrate. We will do that when we are ready, and each of us will do that differently. That pain and trauma don’t just disappear with a policy change, or even an apology (which still has not happened).
Please know I stand firmly that queer folks who have been excommunicated and/or disciplined for LGBTQ+ issues should have their excommunication repealed and issued a full reinstatement. I think the children who had to have their baby blessings and baptisms canceled should be issued an apology. Yes, I think the brethren, as stewards of the Church, should apologize to the children affected by the POX.
Please know we need to learn to live in the paradoxical state of weeping and rejoicing (Romans 12:15). We are allowed a full range of emotions. You are allowed to feel anger, frustration, joy, elation, pain, sorrow, hope, skepticism, faith, and forgiveness. I am feeling all these emotions at this very moment, and they are not mutually exclusive.
Please know this policy still does not address concerns of gender. Trans men and all women (queer, straight, cis, trans, intersex, or otherwise) are still denied full participation in these rituals. Until all genders are ordained, our rituals will continue to be exclusionary even beyond the queer community and the POX.
Please know I celebrate this drop in the bucket, because that’s how buckets get filled. Change tends to be slow and painful for those of us that had to fight for every drop. Activism doesn’t come with a gold star for the activists who made it possible. Some will despise and ridicule us for our work to stop the abuse and then in the same breath praise the abuser who finally listened to us. Activism isn’t about popularity. It’s about filling the bucket with each essential drop even though people will despise you for it. I celebrate this drop with you, because this was our drop. It was our queer activism that made this specific drop possible.
Please know that overall these are good changes. This paves the groundwork for further improvement, if only in potential. It’s a step in the right direction. So far as these changes are laying the foundation for more inclusion, I support them.
As for the Church and its leaders, please know, that I thank you for listening. You did the right thing and I applaud your willingness to reverse these policies. But please, don’t hit me again. Don’t take advantage of my willingness to reconcile with you as an opportunity to hit me again.
Sincerely, a Queer Mormon Sister