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You Can Redact the Policy, but You Can’t Undo the Damage

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by Tyler Wilcox

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 [email protected]. You can also read other stories and reactions to the reversal of the exclusion policy.

So, that summer back in 2015, the Supreme Court had just legalized same-sex marriage nationwide with their ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges. On that day, I decided it would probably be the best day someone could come out on. So, I went onto Twitter and said that I was really scared to tweet this, but that I was bisexual. Mostly gay, but bi nonetheless. I got only positive feedback from my friends and I had a conversation with my parents when I got home from work that day. The next day I announced the same thing on Facebook. I was still in the church at that time so I included in my message that I wanted to stay in the church and I planned on staying celibate.

Fast forward to Nov 5, 2015. I must’ve heard the news at work. I was kind of left alone during the workday to think about this policy and how unapologetically homophobic it is. Later on that day I’m able to talk to some friends who’re just as upset as I am about the policy. Then I see people defending the policy. “The policy isn’t homophobic!” “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” “The leaders know what they’re doing because they know the difficult spot it puts people in when they have to decide between church and LGBT issues.” Whatever your reasoning, it’s discrimination.

Hearing about the policy made me upset. I probably cried. I felt wronged. I was happy and proud that I had come out only to have it torn down 5 months later. It made me feel suicidal again. Still, I wanted to stay in the church and make the church work for me. I had a Mormon therapist at the time and she tried to reassure me that the policy was god’s will for us. Looking back, I think that’s complete bullshit from someone trying to defend a deplorable action.

Early into 2016, I began hearing about a bunch of youth suicides. I still kept my head down and wanted to make the church work for me. Throughout 2016 I just learned more about the church’s history. My mindset went from “I need to take a break from the church and I’ll come back if and when their policies around LGBTQIA+ people change” to “this church is terrible and I want out.” I went away to college that fall and resigned once I had confirmed my records had been moved to my student ward.

Since then I’ve just been enjoying my life more outside of the church. I no longer feel guilt over my sexuality and I know I’m not any less worthy than someone else because of my sexuality. I’ve been trying to show others in my position that the church isn’t their only option too.

Now, we get to April 4th and the reversal of this policy. I’m happy for the change itself but these last 4 years have been terrible for so many people. Now it’s just gone and the church treats it like it’s never even happened. The Loveloud festival was created in large part because of this policy. Many suicides happened in large part because of this policy. I myself and many others have felt a lot of pain in these last 4 years and now it’s gone and we don’t even get an apology?

I went onto Facebook yesterday to say “You can redact policy all you want but you can’t undo the damage and deaths that have already happened.” I’ve been checked up on by friends and I’ve done the same, just to make sure they’re doing alright after this announcement. This change can definitely reopen closed wounds for some people.

To me, it seems like members ignore the bad part of the church. Then when something like this happens, it’s lauded as a revelation and faith-promoting. Their attitudes go from “you’re making it out to be worse than it actually is” to “the leaders are so inspired!” When we went to speak up against this homophobic policy we were persecuting the members and we were just angry because we left the church to sin.

I’m mad at all the hurt this has caused, only for it to all be undone 4 years later. I really wish the policy wasn’t put in place in the first place. My mom even said this is a good baby step and I hope it is but I’m not so sure. I wonder if this change could possibly cause more pain because now LGBTQ people will become more comfortable in the church and then when they’re really entrenched in it, they learn the church’s hard truth that “homosexual acts” are sins second to murder and it’s too late to leave the church.

So, that’s my story I’d say. It’s been shit for some part and it’s been good for other parts. I had a boyfriend for a while and that was nice. All I can hope for in the future is that the church will continue to become less and less homophobic and transphobic. I’ll help others as much as I can until then.

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