Friday, December 21, 2012

Respectful Mormon Stories

I was supposed to participate in a podcast about the Church's new website last night with John Dehlin and Mormon Stories. They sent out an email to let me know the recording has been postponed until next week. I wasn't really sure who else would be participating, but I did notice that Mitch Mayne's name was on the email. He is the openly gay man who serves as the executive secretary in his San Francisco ward.

With regard to the Church's new site, Mitch stated in the Salt Lake Tribune that the church needs to move beyond talk of "feelings of same-sex attraction since being gay is about sexual orientation, which encompasses much more than feelings.... Any time we can use the word ‘gay’ instead of same-sex attraction, I feel hope that we may be emerging from our misguided, primitive history on how we understand what it really means to be an LGBT individual".

I can see why using the term "gay" would be important for someone who identifies as gay, an LGBT individual. However, avoiding the term "same-sex attraction" discounts the feelings of those who prefer not to identify as gay. I do not find my same-sex attraction to be an identity, rather, just a part of who I am. Those feelings have changed dramatically for me over the years. I can say, and feel on a very deep level, that I am grateful I am not in a lesbian relationship and that I have the life I do with my husband and three children. I know I am living the life that God wants me to live, and the life I want to live.

I also realize that everyone's journey is different. I, for one, am glad that the Church uses the term "same-sex attraction" as well as our "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters" on the new website. I see the language as being inclusive and I think that's important.

I'm hoping the podcast won't turn into a big argument with several different points of view being adamantly defended. I'm hoping it will be inclusive and respectful of everyone's different viewpoints. That it can be a discussion that creates greater understanding rather than more contention. After all, there has already been plenty of contention with regard to this topic.

I guess I'll find out next week.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Mother Approved!

I have to say, I was really concerned about how my mom would react to my presence on the LDS SSA website and the article about me in the Deseret News. She knows about my past. She's read Born That Way? But it has been somewhat difficult for her, in a Mormon culture, to have a daughter talk about such a previously taboo topic. (I'm just going to assume the website and the discussions surrounding it are helping to lessen the taboo-ness.)

Anyway, even though we live in the same town, I received a card from my mom today. I was very pleasantly surprised by what she had to say.

Mom wrote: "I want to tell you I have always been proud to be your mother. And never more so than when I read your article in the Deseret News. You've always been courageous but that was certainly the ultimate challenge.... You have risked your own comfort zone to help to bring love and understanding to those among us that have to deal with same-sex attraction. I have several friends with sons struggling to find their place in the Lord's plan. So, God bless you for your courage and that of Dallas and the girls. I love you and support you and your cause."

Wow, that's HUGE for my mom. I mean, she wasn't embarrassed, like I thought she might be. Instead, she was proud. That's how far off I was in estimating her reaction.

I'm trying to reiterate the point that we really don't know how people will react if we disclose. Sure, it might be negatively. But in my experience, there have been far, far more who have reacted with love, acceptance and support.

And couldn't we all use a little more of that?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Emporer's New Clothes

It has been a week since the article about me ran in the Deseret News and just over a week since the Church's website was released. I must admit, I've felt rather vulnerable--putting that much information about myself out there, along with my photo and my real name. It's something like the Emporer parading about in public in his new clothes, only I knew I was naked. Exposed to whatever might come.

I'm happy to report that the responses have almost all been positive. I must say, it's a strange feeling to have people from my past wards, who didn't necessarily know all my history, contact me and express their support. It has been greatly appreciated, while feeling a bit uncomfortable at the same time. Perhaps they felt the same way--like they were reading a lot of personal information about me,  more than would normally be shared, but they expressed gratitude and admiration nonetheless. It was reaffirming for me, at a time when I could really use it.

I was also grateful because all of this has served as impetus for me to finish my second book, Reborn That Way. As I worked on it this past week, I felt buoyed up by those who expressed their support of me and what I was doing. I even contacted Deseret Book to see if they'd be interested in publishing it. I guess we'll soon find out.

An uncle called to say he and my cousins were behind me all the way. A friend from California sent me a text of gratitude. So did someone I hardly knew from Idaho. One woman from a previous ward contacted me via Facebook, another through my blog on North Star. Someone else wrote a letter, another emailed me through a third party, and several contacted me by phone.

I guess my point is that if you've been keeping part of yourself secret, you may want to consider sharing (although maybe not quite so publicly). You can determine who you think might best receive the news and be supportive. You might feel a bit exposed, downright naked for a time, but the sacrifice could be well worth it.

After all, keeping stuff secret often leads to shame. And no one should have to live with that. There are far better ways to live.

With gratitude and hope in Christ, for instance.