Dear Ask Mormon Girl:
I’m gay and Mormon. I think I’m a relatively rare breed. I am fairly open about it in my young single adult ward. I blog about it. I’m also very active in the church. I just finished a year and a half stint as ward mission leader, which was not an easy thing for me to do. Before that I was Elder’s quorum president in my ward. To me it seems that there are plenty of gay Mormons who are out and choose not to actively participate in the church and there are plenty of gay Mormons who choose to stay closeted and marry the opposite sex, but there aren’t many who are openly gay and active. I think these factors contribute to perpetuating a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance on the subject of homosexuality in the church.
I’m curious what your thoughts are on the church’s approach or lack of approach to homosexuality. It seems content to deal with it largely in the political realm, which I think is a big mistake. There doesn’t seem to be any real overt attempt to minister to gay members on a more personal/spiritual level. What you would do if one of your own children approached you and told you he/she was attracted to his or her own gender?
You have a question for me?
Really, now, I have questions for you. Like, how do you do it, HJ? How do you stay active and hopeful? Right now, I’m dreaming of an endless Sunday dinner where we could sit down and share plates of frog-eye salad and Jello-Cool-Whip desserts and I could listen to your story. I’m sure I would have a lot to learn.
Alas, the bloggernacle is not the dinnertable. But if it were, one of the questions I’d ask you is what you heard or might have liked to hear your own parents say when you came out to them.
Which is not to say I haven’t given my own serious thought to the issue. Lesbian and gay people have played and continue to play a significant role in my life and in the lives of my children. Moreover, my husband is Jewish; reform Judaism does not consider homosexuality sinful. Our home is a very welcoming and accepting place.
Still, I know that the world is often unkind to LGBT people. Whether they are Mormon or not, gay young people face very real challenges, and family reactions can compound them.
Studies in the journal Pediatrics report that LGBT youth who experience high levels of family rejection during adolescence are 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.
I’ve also read Mormon resources for families with gay members like Family Fellowship, founded by Gary and Millie Watts, who acknowledge the great difficulty of negotiating the divide between Church teachings that homosexuality is immoral and the tremendous dignity and morality they witness in the lives of their gay children.
What I’ve learned from them is that for anyone who both loves the Mormon tradition and loves someone who is gay, there are no easy answers, except for the words “I love you.” That’s something my kids can always be assured they’ll hear from me.
Readers, it’s your turn. How would you answer HJ’s question? And what (polite!) questions about being gay and faithful would you ask HJ at the Sunday dinner table?
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