There is a certain breed of Mormon maverick. This kind of Mormon maverick is my favorite kind of Mormon. In fact they are my heroes. They are the women and men who put Christ-like love ahead of any dogma, ahead of any judgement, ahead of any instruction from higher-ups. These people remained true to their testimonies in the only way that made sense to them, but in so doing took huge risks. All of them risked their status in their communities, their status and membership in the church, and some even risked their livelihoods. I am going to describe some of these mavericks.
One was a woman who found out her husband was gay. Instead of turning to bitterness she found the strength to turn to love. She suffered a deep loss, but still found the strength to comfort this man as he died. She suffered as Job did, but she didn’t curse god or her church. Instead, she risked her place in her community and her livelihood to share her story, and become one of the first advocates for LGBT Mormons and in so doing saved countless lives. She remained an advocate and never backed away from her firm resolve, even if it didn’t match the official suggestions from the hierarchy.
Another maverick was a Bishop who found that the message that most LGBT members receiving at church was driving them away. He developed a determination to change that message and created a unique atmosphere in his ward where LGBT members actually felt welcome. This set an example that others were later able to follow. This maverick went on and teamed with the traditional enemy (the “so called gays”) to advocate for LGBT youth and educate families, even though it promoted some ideas that were new and different than what the leadership had promoted.
Another maverick was a biologist who learned some truths that weren’t very popular in the church. He saw how this scientific knowledge could be a tool for helping to understand a situation, and saw how spreading these unpopular truths could really help with the message of tolerance toward LGBT people. He didn’t let fear for his position at a church-owned institution interfere with the urgent need to spread a message. Then he and his maverick wife went a step further and started a direct advocacy for LGBT individuals who were being rejected by their wards and families.
Another maverick went against the tides when rights were being discussed, and pointed out publicly the legal damage done by a campaign against equality that most members were involved in.
Another maverick started an organization to show that some Mormons support this very issue that most members were fighting against.
Another maverick started doing research to study the ways the LGBT people could best find happiness and publicized these findings even if the were critical of the position of the hierarchy.
Another maverick chose love and forgiveness when she found out her husband was gay, and not only chose to love him as they redefined their relationship, but chose to support all LGBT Mormons and to other straight spouses by opening her home with monthly social gatherings that provided so much needed support.
Another maverick was a Bishop who flew across the country and inspired thousands by publicly and emotionally voicing his regret about how LGBT people have been ostracized. This same bishop went on to be an outspoken ally not just for LGBT Mormons but for all LGBT people as he became involved in the political fight for equality.
Another maverick went beyond embracing her gay son, but let her home become a refuge for other lost and rejected LGBT Mormons and let her home be a regular gathering place for support and socialization.
Another maverick couple decided to embrace their teen son’s cause as their own, and have taken on his fight with such enthusiasm and vitality that they are now inspiring thousands, even while they put their own friendships and relationships with extended family at risk due to their outspoken support for their son and for the cause.
Another maverick spent money she couldn’t afford to pay registration fees and provide banners so that other mavericks could show support by marching in parades in cities all over the country and then she spent the rest of the year fighting a political campaign for equality for all LGBT people.
Another maverick grandmother comforted her grandson by refusing to take the sacrament when she saw that her grandson was also being excluded from that ritual.
I left out the names although the characters are easy to guess. However, some of these descriptions apply to more than one person. And I only described the situations that are most familiar to me, and there are many more that deserve mention of honor and gratitude. These heros are straight allies. I also have many heroes who are LGBT Mormons, and others who are non-Mormon activists dedicated to helping LGBT Mormons. But this time I want to recognize all these straight allies who could have turned away from this cause. I want to thank these mavericks for inspiring me and turning the tides in our Mormon society. I want to thank them for making the idea of change a reality. I want to thank them because the world is a better place for LGBT Mormons than it was 30 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 1 year ago because of these people. THANK-YOU