I was TERRIFIED. I had to lock my knees so they would stop shaking. I’m sure if you put a microphone up to my chest, my heart would have sounded like a jackhammer. But it had been on my mind for weeks, and just kept coming back to me that I needed to do it. Earlier this morning before church, I asked Jordan how he felt about me bearing my testimony, and he said he was fine with it and wanted to be there to hear me. (But I told him it wasn’t a for sure thing because I was really scared and I might chicken out.) When we got there, I kept looking around the chapel at all the people. I remember some of the rejection and hurtful comments. Some people already dislike me enough. I didn’t want to make it worse. But then, for some reason, my little 7-year old daughter, Emma, kept asking me over and over to bear my testimony. (She’s never done that before.) So I did. But as I was walking up I was thinking, if this ends badly at least I’ll go out with a bang!
This is about what I can remember saying:
Good afternoon, Brothers and Sisters. My family and I have been in this ward now for several months, but this is my first time bearing my testimony here. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Wendy Montgomery. It’s interesting – I speak in public quite often, but I’m usually not nervous. Right now, I’m absolutely terrified because of the things that are in my heart that I feel to share with you. They are not easy things to say in a setting like this. The past 2 years have been some of the hardest I have ever experienced. And that’s saying something, because I have had a difficult life.
We found out about 2 years ago that our oldest son, Jordan, is gay. (This is where all the air got sucked out of the room.) I apologize for bringing this topic up because I know it makes many uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable 2 years ago, too. My intent is not to make anyone uncomfortable, but to ask for your help.
(This is where I started getting emotional)
My son has a very hard time being here. It is extremely difficult for him to be in a place, week after week, where he feels unwanted and unloved. He doesn’t know where he fits. Or where he belongs.
As parents, I’m sure you all feel like I do and want this same thing for your children: I want Jordan to know what I know – that his Heavenly Mother and his Heavenly Father know who he is and love him exactly the way he is. I want him to have a deep and lasting relationship with his Savior, Jesus Christ. I want him to come to church and feel God’s love and be around people who see what a beautiful person he is. Outside of our home, these things can happen best at church.
But it is not happening for him. So I ask you to help me. Please. Please love my son. Treat him the same as other young men here. Look him in the eye. Offer him a smile, a hug, a handshake. Please be his friend. Because I want him sitting with me and the rest of our family in church each week, if he is comfortable there.
Jordan has lost many friends. Both LDS and non-LDS. From a boy who is worthy of the Aaronic priesthood that he holds, who keeps the Law of Chastity in every way, and is living his life in accordance with everything the church asks of him, I cannot understand why he has lost friends. It seems like the most un-Christlike of things to do.
I am grateful to those of you who have reached out in friendship to my family. I know our circumstances are difficult and uncomfortable for people, so I am very grateful to those few who have been willing to put aside their own discomfort and befriend and welcome us.
I have a testimony of this gospel. It has taken a beating in the last 2 years, but there are some things that haven’t changed. I believe God lives. I believe He knows me and loves me. I believe in Jesus Christ. I love him deeply. He has carried me through some of the darkest moments of my life. I have spent every day of my life as a member of this church and I have always loved it. There is much here that is beautiful and good.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Testimony given right after mine: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such courage displayed in a Sacrament meeting before. It must have been extremely difficult for her to say the things she did in her testimony, but I for one am very grateful that she had the strength to share her story with us, and I hope we can all do what she is asking of us.”
-The second testimony given after mine: “What an excellent reminder Sister Montgomery’s testimony was of what Christ-like love looks like, and how much better we could be at showing it to others. Everyone should welcome in our church, no matter what.”
-Comments said to us after Sacrament meeting was over:
- “Thank you so much for what you shared. I felt the Spirit so strongly as you spoke.”
- “The only problem I had with your testimony was that you apologized for making people uncomfortable. Don’t EVER apologize for your son, and your support of him. It doesn’t matter if you make people uncomfortable. They need to be made uncomfortable, especially about this issue.”
- “I have a daughter who is gay. It has been immensely painful for our family because we have chosen to have nothing to do with her and her choices and lifestyle. But we still pray for her.” (I asked this woman if she had been to the Church’s website www.mormonsandgays.org. She said no because she already knew the Church’s position on this and didn’t need to go to the website. I strongly encouraged her to go to it, hoping it would at least help soften this woman’s heart toward her daughter.)
- “My high school boyfriend was gay. He was perfect for me. I was devastated when I found out because I loved him and could have married him.”
- “I have a gay nephew. This needs to be talked about more. Thank you for helping me see what this is like through your eyes.”
- “I worry my young son could be gay.”
- “Thank you for your reminder to just LOVE.”
- “The Spirit was so strong when you bore your testimony. It was like touch it-taste it-feel it strong. But there was just enough of a subtle ‘Stop being a douche’ in it to make the haters feel guilty and ashamed. I hope some will get it now.” (This was probably my favorite comment. It made me laugh out loud!)
I received many more comments via email and Facebook. Almost all of them were positive and supportive. Bearing my testimony about having a gay son (especially in front of many of the people who have said some pretty awful things about me and my family) was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. But through all of these responses I feel like maybe I made a small difference for some. Maybe a few eyes were opened. Maybe a few hearts were softened.
I think this is how change happens. One heart at a time.