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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

From Hate to Hope

Over the last week or so, I have really had to get my thoughts and feelings in line in order to discuss them. On June 30, 2015 the first presidency of the LDS church released a letter in response to the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage. If you are interested in reading the full letter here is the link (LDS Newsroom). Originally when I read the letter, I got sick. The letter bothered me. I was upset with how it was worded, how I felt it made us gays look to the other members of the church. I was also concerned for how fully active members would treat us LGBTQ members of the church. I know for the most part I can feel comfortable in my family ward. I have many friends married and unmarried, my age, and some older. I am not necessarily concerned for myself or how I may be directly treated because all the essential people in my life have welcomed me with open arms. I do feel pain for the other people who don't have my situation. Either their parents disowned them, they are homeless, their ward family has shunned them, sometimes their bishop may even shun them. I know there are people out there and I let those feelings get to my heart. I don't see how people can be that hateful and I ache on the inside because I know I can't help them see the light. This post may seem negative in the beginning but bare with me. My attitude changes.

So back on the topic of the letter. I felt like the tone of the letter was simply just regurgitating the teaching that marriage is only sanctioned by God if it is between a man and a woman. This was to be expected. I didn't have any hope or feeling that the church doctrine would change. I just hoped that the letter would have made it more clear that there ARE members everywhere who are either SSA and staying active in the church, or members who live authentically and live with the one who they love. Some people may not understand the frustration I and many others felt when this letter was first released, and thats ok. Be glad that you dont have to worry about this stuff. At the same time though it would be nice if LGBTQ individuals could be taken out of the "sinful" category. It is not the same as alcoholism, it is not an abortion, Homosexuality is not about sex, it is not a sin that you openly commit. It is more than that. These are hormones, emotions, actual feelings, and legitimate attraction to the same sex. None of the sins they categorize homosexuality with have any of those. You choose to have sex, you choose to have an abortion (in some cases it is necessary), you choose to become alcoholic (unless its genetics). How can you compare how you feel about people to how someone sees alcohol? Alcoholism is an addiction. Not an attraction.

I know my thoughts may seem clustered and slightly jumbled but I have alot going through my mind. Let me take a few steps back to 2 years ago. Back when I was contemplating serving a mission. I had committed a few sins that I needed to clear up with my bishop. I was in the singles ward then and he was the new bishop in that ward. I was scared because I didn't know how he would respond to the fact that I was attracted to men. Our past bishop was slightly open minded and easy to talk to. He also was willing to learn more about the topic because he knew there was a large number of individuals in the church who needed help, love, and compassion. The conversation became more of an interrogation. My feelings and attractions were seen more as a problem and he thought that in the future I would grow out of the "gay". Around this time is when I moved. I met with my new bishop and things were great! He said he had a personal connection to the topic of SSA. I felt like I could open up. Eventually there was a point where I was depressed. This was about the time that I came close to taking my life. I was in a situation where something happened to me and it was out of my control. This made things even more difficult emotionally for me. I could not stop thinking about the razor blade. I went back to being a zombie while driving. I wanted to die. I felt like garbage. I was worthless in my eyes. I wanted to meet with him hoping to get this off my chest and to seek help and guidance. I bawled my eyes out to him, I told him everything and I felt anything but Christlike love in that moment. He immediately jumped to the conclusion that I would need to go through disciplinary council for something that I didn't do, or choose to do. My thoughts, emotions, feelings, and attractions were pushed aside and I felt worse than I did when I went in to meet with him. It was about this time that I decided I am not going in to a bishops office to talk about things that are so personal and things that were life and death for me. I was and still am at a point where I feel like I can't open up to certain individuals who don't agree with me because the whole time I'm opening up I feel as though they just see me as a sinner, someone who can still come around. They begin talking about the churches stance on things when I already know the stance. I don't need people telling me how they feel I should live my life. Each individual is different when going through this. I believe that some individuals may be able to find happiness as a gay or a lesbian living in a straight relationship. That's not me though. I know who im attracted to and what I want in terms of a happy relationship.

I have began seeing the letter more as a positive thing. I think it will be a gateway for the topic of LGBTQ individuals to be discussed more. I also pray and hope that there will be more done in the church to help the LGBTQ members to feel welcome. I know we may never be able to go through the temple, or have any of those blessings but there are other ways to help people feel welcome. We should start talking more about this issue and make it less of a taboo topic. Talking about it more does not mean that you have to change the way you believe. It's simply a way to get people to be more open minded about authentic lives that are lived all around them. Kids are growing up in a time that is so different from the past. You can only shelter them for so long now before they are "exposed" to different ways of living. There are more and more children coming out as gay, bi, and transgender. If the kids are in school or have friends who are LGBTQ they will be exposed whether the parents like it or not. I think with the church releasing this letter it is opening up many doors for people in the LGBTQ community. A few years ago we never talked about gay, or even SSA. We pushed it aside and did not acknowledge the fact that people in the church are born with those feelings and tendencies. Now the church has released a letter that mentions the words "gay" and "SSA" multiple times. Church buildings all over the world this past Sunday and next Sunday will be discussing this to great lengths. That in and of itself is a huge milestone! From this point on it will not be a weird thing to hear people talk about anything having to do with LGBT people in a LDS church building. We need to get past the point of being afraid to talk about something because it is "taboo". Homosexuality is real, people are born with those tendencies. We chose to be gay the day that you chose to be straight. Some may not understand, some may never understand. In order to understand something though you need to seek out. Some people may need to soften their hearts before they are loving and accepting. We gays need to be patient with those individuals. I have began seeing that this is as much a process for me as it is for everyone else around me. Sure, I wish people were more loving and understanding right off the bat but I think we would never grow if it was that easy. I love the gospel. Sure, some of you may roll your eyes at that statement but that's your own prerogative. If I have consequences, then I have consequences. We all are going to have consequences no matter what and we are given time in the eternities to grow, fix mistakes, and learn.

I know people may disagree with my stance on things and that's ok, because I disagree with them. This world would be so dry and boring if we all had the same opinion. There would be no point to our time on earth. Let's work harder on being more open minded and accepting on both sides of the spectrum.

Until next time,

Zac