Two years ago today, a policy from the LDS Church regarding homosexual members and their children was released. That policy marked any member that is a part of a same-sex marriage as an apostate and that their children could not receive baby blessings, baptism or other ordinances until they are 18 (under certain circumstances). This past year has brought me even more personally invested in this. Two of my close friends came out to me and publicly as gay. I came out as ace. My allegiances to the LGBTQ+ community were strengthened.
For many of my close friends and countless others, The Policy was a breaking point that drove them out of the Church. It’s been a rough couple years. I’m not really interested in talking about how The Policy came to be or whether God mandated it (though I understand that my thoughts on that are definitely coloring how I think we should respond). Honestly, those are questions that I cannot answer beyond what I have felt in praying to God about The Policy and seeing the way that it has played out in the lives of those around me.
What are we called to do? What do I need to do? I’m not in danger of being excommunicated because of The Policy and as being recently engaged and soon to be married, will have great married, straight-passing privilege. Yet, these are my brothers and sisters. My friends. Our friends. Our brothers and sisters. We have an obligation to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, to mourn with those that mourn.
Most of us are not in any sort of position to make changes to Church policy (particularly after it has been designated by an apostle as “revelation”). That’s obviously one way that change could be made, but not one that I think I have any sway over. But we can all do something about those around us. We can all make a safer, better space.
A few thoughts on things that we can all do:
- Love Loud. The biggest thing we can do is love each other. To be there for our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers. To show them the love that they need. To make a space where this kind of love is felt and experienced and can flourish. This will probably look different for all of us, but I think is worth pursuing. This is where we comfort those that stand in need of comfort, we mourn with those that mourn—we LOVE. Love requires action. It is more than words. It’s a warm embrace. It’s a kind note. It’s a delicious pizza. Act. Love. And Love Loud. (Like hosting an entire music festival with thousands of people loud.)
- Say the Words. Perhaps a more concrete way to show love is to explicitly say the words gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, ace, etc. at Church. Mention us by name. Use the labels that we use for ourselves. Verbally make a space for us. It seems like a little thing, but it means a lot to hear out loud someone at Church acknowledge that we exist and that we have struggles and that there’s something we can do. I’m not suggesting you awkwardly smash in some way to reference LGBTQ+ members in every talk or lesson that you give or participate in. BUT I think rather than dancing around the issue, explicit acknowledgment of our existence and the particular struggles and gifts of the LGBTQ+ community to Mormonism would be a powerful thing to experience.
- Reach Out. This seems fairly straightforward, but seems to happen far too infrequently. Rather than waiting for someone to come to you and explicitly ask for help and your assistance, reach out to those LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers in your ward or that you otherwise know. Be the first one to extend the hand. Show that you care and that you are a safe, inviting space. Not everyone will respond or take you up on your extended hand, but I think it’s still well worth doing. They might later, or might not. But it’s useful to have people reach out and ask how things are going. My experience (and that of some of my friends and probably others) is that there’s an outpouring of love and comfort when you come out, but that quickly it dies off and people tend to act as if life is normal. In some respects this is lovely and good and all, but in others is quite isolating and lonely. Being queer and Mormon is hard. There’s a lot of tension and it feels good when that tension is acknowledged and validated by others who reach out and genuinely express concern and interest in how things are going. It doesn’t need to be the only thing that you talk about, but just like you ask someone how their relationships are, how their job is, or how they’re feeling after going through something challenging, include our queerness in conversation.
I don’t know if The Policy will change. I think it will. But regardless we can and must extend love to our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers. Always. But especially on days like today.