The day after the news of the new LDS Church policies on gay families hit social media, I prayed.
Yes, the news was devastating to me and to so, so many in the LGBT Mormon community. In the weeks following, I was exposed on an almost daily basis to stories of intense personal pain and despair. Even though I ultimately found my own peace through my personal relationship with God, I was experiencing symptoms of secondary trauma from the constant barrage of stories of grief and sadness experienced by LGBT Mormons, their families, loved ones and allies.
The peace that I found was rooted in the direct, personal assurance I received from God that he knows who I am, he knows my heart, and he is with me. In that moment of prayer, the day after the news of the policy hit, God reassured me that the reality of our lives is bigger and more powerful than that.
In the months since then, that has been my touchstone: my sense that God walks with us, and that there is power in living our lives with love, faith, hope and integrity.
I believe that if we are to survive, we have to come to some place of personal self-knowledge, self-understanding and self-acceptance.
The first time I ever marched at LGBT Pride in the late 1980s was a transformative moment for me.
I was a scary moment. In my head was the accumulation of all the negative stereotypes I had ever been exposed to about what it meant to be gay, AND all the negative stereotypes I had ever heard about Pride, and what Pride was supposed to be. Rebels against God. Evil on display. Immoral people flaunting their immorality.
The act of choosing to march was an act of faith, grounded in my dawning self-knowing. It embodied my dawning awareness that the forces that had labeled me a rebel and evil, that accused me of flaunting if I dared to accept myself, were wrong. They lacked understanding, and we were bigger than that.
Pride was also an act of healing, of reclamation. Yes, many of us are wounded. Many of us are lost. The denial of love, the ostracism from families and communities, they take a toll. We need to create a communion where all are loved, all are included.
Pride was our hand outstretched to those who had wounded us, but more importantly to those who had been wounded. We needed to believe in ourselves enough to do that. We needed to believe in ourselves enough to know that our self-acceptance, and our acceptance of one another actually mattered. If we didn’t believe in ourselves enough to do that, nothing that anybody else ever did for us would matter. We could not accept others’ gift if we didn’t somehow come to believe in ourselves.
In previous years, I have gladly marched with Mormon allies, with Mormons Building Bridges. MBB has done a beautiful thing, a very important thing.
But this year of all years I need to march under a banner that represents my self-acceptance. I need to march with an organization that was founded of, by and for LGBT Mormons. I believe it is crucial for us as an LGBT Mormon community to engage in that act of faith implied by standing up, being counted, telling our stories, reaching out to those among us who are in despair and showing them that rejection, isolation, and loneliness are not our destiny, no matter the forces out there that work to make us believe it. We as LGBT people need to do this.
If you have been wounded by the events of recent months… If you have been angry… If you have had the wind knocked out of you… If you have been hurting… If you have worried… If you have been worn out… If you have been harried by your family and friends who don’t understand… If you have felt alone… If you have felt rejected… If you have fallen…
It’s time to stand up. It’s time to muster whatever spark of belief you have in yourself. It’s time to wash the tears from your face. It’s time to put on your beautiful raiments. It’s time for you to take the hands of your radiant gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender brothers and sisters and walk together in the light of Love.
Affirmation LGBT Mormons has organized contingents in Salt Lake, DC, Boise, London and Seattle. I will be marching with Affirmation at Salt Lake Pride on June 5. Come walk with us!
If you are an ally, the thought of marching under the banner of an LGBT group like Affirmation may feel particularly risky. It may be outside of your comfort zone. We invite you to march with us. We want you to join arms with us. Show the world that you see us not as others make us out to be, but as we are. Show that you are willing to go the journey with us. This year we welcome you to come and see what the parade route looks like from the perspective of walking with us, rather than inviting us to walk with you.
Wherever we are in our journey as LGBT Mormons, family or friends, wherever we are in our journey as Mormon, wherever we are in our journey as L, G, B or T, or ally, come walk together with us. Every time I have walked, I have learned something new about myself, about others, about life, about love, about peace, about justice, about the good, about what the world is supposed to be, freed from fear and hate.
Come make those connections. Come experience the power of being who you are at this moment, in this place, on this journey.
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