By Gina Crivello and Wendy Montgomery
Gina, my heart is with you, my sweet friend. I know how you are feeling, how tired your are deep in your soul from the constancy of this fight. It wears you down like nothing else I have ever experienced. It never lets up, it never gives you a break. If you are like me, I go to sleep with it. I wake up with it. It is my constant companion and everyday friend. When we try to step back to regroup and take a breather, we hear of another suicide of one our beautiful young ones. And our fractured hearts break all over again. There will always be too much to do, and too little time. There is loss everywhere on this path, and the cost we are ALL paying is staggering.
But what are the alternatives? We all know too much now to turn and walk away. We see this ever-increasing need of children who are misunderstood and unloved, who feel so hated and unworthy that they would rather die than face a life of who God made them to be. God has promised us “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:1-3). We see beauty in them when others may see only ashes. God has entrusted in us the mission of showing others in our church the beauty that we see in our LGBT loved ones. Whether we fulfill that mission from within the Church or on the outside, there is enough work to be done on both sides.
These are some of Heavenly Father’s MOST precious children (whether they are still children or now grown adults). We have all seen this and felt this when we are in their presence. It is an honor and a privilege to be about this work. Yes, the cost is extraordinarily high. But so are the rewards. I suppose that has always been the way of things.
So hold on, Gina. Keep fighting! But take a break from church, if you need to. Take a break from uneducated members. Take a break from well-intended, but woefully misguided meetings. Take a break from prying, inappropriate questions from church leaders. Taking breaks keep us sane. I call them “mental health days”.
And if you need to be done with church for good, that’s okay too. You do what is best for you and your family. I understand and will be the last one to judge you. In fact, there will be many days that I will be envious of you. (Although I have to admit to my heart sinking just a bit if you were to leave because of how badly we need voices inside the church.)
I completely agree with you about wanting to unplug from the world and just having a warm, Christ-centered Christmas. I just want to put my husband, my kids and myself in a little December Christmas bubble for a few weeks, safe from the hostility and judgement that we have to endure from our ward, our leaders and sometimes even our family members. Is that too much to ask?
Wendy, as I read your words above, I felt inspired to go to Sacrament this morning. As I sat there, I felt prompted to write out my testimony and then read from it at the pulpit. I even included some of your words and Ballard’s challenge that was written on today’s program. I don’t know what the aftermath will be, but it felt right.
My testimony during Sacrament:
“A week ago, I attended our stake’s RS workshops. Sis. b gave a wonderful–and much needed–talk about defeating stress. Thank you, Sis. B.
Another workshop directed by our stake RS president, Sis. C, was titled, “Room at the Lord’s Table: Charity Toward Those with Same Gender Attraction” (or SGA, which is another way of saying “gay”).
What is charity? Charity is the pure love of Christ… something we all strive to give, something we all deserve to get.
Sis. C taught that those who are gay… those with SGA… are not that way by choice. She stressed that attraction to the same gender (gay) was not a choice, and that the attraction itself should not be considered a sin. It’s not a choice. It’s not an illness. It’s not something to be “fixed.”
I challenge you to let go of what you think you know about what it is to be gay. Let go of the stereotype. Sis. C said it’s important to try to understand and that we will be more loving and kind (and I’d like to add respectful) to those with SGA. She mentioned the church’s official website — put together by the leaders of the church — Mormonsandgays.org where it says right there on top that gay people do not choose their feelings of SGA. I have listened to my LDS gay brothers and sisters who said they knew at a young age they were gay and prayed and begged God to take it away. They promised to read their scriptures, do their callings the best they can, serve honorable missions to not be gay anymore, but God never took it away. I’ve seen their tears and pain about not being welcomed in their church. No one chooses to be hated.
In honor of Elder Ballard’s Missionary Challenge, “We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just ‘one’ between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior,” Dec. 22 is “Sit with Me Sunday” where we invite our gay and transgender brothers and sisters to sit with us in church. This day has been established because so many don’t feel welcome here. They have been ostracized, marginalized, misunderstood, and shunned. So many long to be welcomed in the church they were raised in.
I have a testimony that Heavenly Father loves his gay sons. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father loves his lesbian daughters and transgender children. I have a testimony that Christ loves them and wants them to be counted amongst his flock.
(Inspired by Wendy’s words >>) These are some of Heavenly Father’s most precious children (even as adults). I have seen and felt this while in their presence. They are the most loving and compassionate people. Their love and grace in the face of pain inspires me. It is an honor and privilege to be their sister.
Christ in Gethsemane when he took on all of our troubles knew what it is like to have SGA. He knows what it’s like to be rejected and misunderstood. He has room at his table for all of us.
One in ten among us have SGA. Many know while very young, but they don’t have a name for it, yet. Most know by the time they are 10-11-12. They internalized everything we say about them. Everything. Where are they? As adults, they leave, being misunderstood and unwelcome. Or they stay in hiding — in the closet — because it’s not safe for them.
Let’s make it safe for them. Make room on the bench next to you for them while the Lord makes room for them at His table.
Having SGA is not a choice, but continuing to refuse to understand is a choice. What if it’s your child? What if it’s your grandchild, niece, or nephew? Make room for them in your heart.
I leave this with you in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”