Letter to a Gay Mormon Teen in Arizona

These events of the last 2 days have surely jolted you, and have forced you to leave the innocence of your childhood behind.  For the first time in your life, you realize that people hate you.  Not for anything that you did, but for something that you are.  It is a jolt and I am grieving with you.  You believed in humanity, and humanity is letting you down.

 

I just want to plead with you to make something positive of these events.

 

First I want to remind you that the kind of blatant attacks we are seeing right now are based on hate, but they are also based on fear.  The truth is, not a single person that hates you even knows you.  In fact, most of the hatred comes from people who don’t realize that they know a single gay person.  They have a fear of the unknown.  They have a set of myths and fables they believe about this unknown ‘other’.  They don’t just hate gays but they hate anything they don’t know.  They hate other religions and other races.  They hate ideas that threaten their comfort with a predictable world.

 

I do want to explain something to you about humans and their weaknesses.  Humans are programmed to fear and hate the ‘other’.  This was actually pretty useful for most of human history.  Because for thousands of years the ‘other’ was a neighboring tribe with different customs and different language, and different ways of dressing, and if you encountered one of these ‘others’ they would kill you if you didn’t kill them first.  So we evolved to hate and fear the ‘other’.  We had to, to survive.  We had to protect our own group.  There was a constant assault on our very families, and group loyalty meant to hate ‘others’.

 

But the world has changed. Our ‘group’ has grown.  It first grew bigger and bigger so as to include whole communities, then cities, then nations.  But now we have arrived at a time where our ‘group’ has to include every human on the planet.  It has to include friends and enemies.  It even has to include animals and nature.  We have to protect the sharks and the cobras in order to really protect our home the planet earth.  Right now, there is no ‘other’.  There is only us.

 

You understood this from the beginning.  You had a belief in humanity.  You knew that they couldn’t possibly hate you, because you couldn’t possibly hate anyone.  But you are ahead of humanity.  Much of humanity still believes that they have to trample ‘others’ in order to survive.  Humanity holds onto it’s traditions of hating the ‘other’ and manifests this as racism, sexism, classism, nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and religious intolerance.

 

Humanity needs you my friend.  They need to be taught that the hatred is no longer needed, and that it is no longer helpful.  They need to know what you already knew.  That humanity is ready to rise above hatred.

 

You also already know what you need to do for humanity.  You need to let your light shine.  Nobody who really knows you can hate you.  You are full of light and love.  It is impossible for anyone to hate you.  If they think they hate you, it is a version of you that they have invented in their minds.  Once they realize what you really are, the hatred is going to melt.

 

You have already let your light shine.  You have spoken your truth to your parents.  They saw your truth, and they have let it change them.  They are fighting your cause with the same pure love that you have shown to them.  They have protected you so far from most of the hate, and they have answered the call to fight this cause for you, and for every child who has to confront this hatred.  You have inspired them by being true to yourself, and that inspiration has already made the difference in the lives of many.

 

Your parents wanted to protect you from this recent pain, the pain of knowing you are hated.  However, there are some pains that they can’t protect you from, nor should they.  You will grow in many ways as you fight alongside your parents to secure your equality and your dignity.  Your best tools in this fight are your love, and your truth, and your refusal to hide.  You are making a difference by being yourself and being counted.  Nobody can question your honesty, nor your integrity, nor your intentions.  You can be an ambassador in a way nobody else can, simple by being your honest, authentic and loving self.

 

And this fight will be won.  We know it will.  We know that this attack is a desperate last ditch effort to hold on to some values that need to be let go of.  The new generation, your generation, understands this.

 

But there will be other battles, even after this is won.  You will enter other struggles as an adult.  Some of them, like this one, will be your own.  Others, you will fight on behalf of others.  And you will have gained something from all of this.  You will have an empathy that was earned.  You will know what oppression is.  You will know what discrimination is.  You will know what allies are.  And you will use that understanding and combine it with the love that was always within you and you will make a difference.

5 comments for “Letter to a Gay Mormon Teen in Arizona

  1. Meg Abhau
    February 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for everything. I am so thankful to have you as a friend and support system on this amazing journey.

  2. February 21, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I love you, Daniel Parkinson. I want you to know that in case I never get the chance to tell you again. I’m coming to this conversation 35 years late, and it makes me sad for what might have been but for want of people like you in my ward, and my stake, and my boyhood. Your commitment matters a great deal. You and your cousin are kind of my heroes, and you’ve made it possible for me to attend family reunions (at Aspen Grove) without pretending to be something I’m not and enabled me to have honest relationships with my BigTBMFamily. So . . . . thanks, buddy.

    • Daniel Parkinson
      February 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Wow….A compliment like this from someone I really admire (for organizing the million puppet march…google it!) Thanks!

  3. Jake Abhau
    February 22, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Yes Daniel, we so appreciate how you include us in your life. This was a beautiful letter and we appreciate every word.

  4. Steven Reiley
    February 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    A great letter and it so true.

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