posted by Affirmation at 09:49
The LDS Church is today tremendously invested in protecting its public image. My comment might sound too cynical, but some of us feel that talking directly to the media might well be the ONLY way to get the attention of the LDS leaders.
I can see how it would be painfully hard to be a Mormon and a LGBT at the same time. My heart goes out to those that struggle with that dichotomy. I just don't see how more than a loving tolerance could be developed between the two communities, since they stand on opposite sides of the belief-system on this particular issue. I really don't see any compromises on either side, since either group would have to change their identity in some way. I don't think Mormons really want an LGBT person to completely lie to themselves just for the sake of fitting in, and I don't think that the LGBT community would want the church to do the same. It’s an impasse. Church members need to have loving tolerance for the GLBT community and allow them to worship and participate in activities, but callings and leadership positions would have stay limited to members who are living their lives in accordance to the gospel.
Will they listen? No, it's that simple. You have committed two sins in their view. One, you have forced them to do something public that they have attempted to avoid, they said the name Affirmation.And second, they will see that as bad publicity for the church.
No, I don't think going public will/did help at all. The church spokesman as reported by most stations made it clear they were "disappointed" (read very easily piss off) with the actions of the affirmation leaders. Even news media people doubt now that any dialogue will happen between the two groups. I fully understand why people went public, and I really do not accept the excuse of the need of a new Family Services leader as a reason to call off the meeting, especially when no firm date is set for a future meeting. There should have been others in place ready to meet, that is if the church were really serious about the meeting. Personally, I really doubt they were. This gave them a ready excuse to "call it off" or "postpone it indefinitely." The church obviously feels its power threatened. Someone DARED to push them into discussing something they are not willing to even contemplate. Good members are to shut up and do what they are told, and accept any excuse, no matter how feable, and just bide their time, leaders will do things when THEY get around to it. As members, we have always given in to that attitude, and in times past, when dealing with evil abusive leaders who abused kids, the nothing ever getting done resulted in too many damaged people. We wait too long all the time to be listened to, or to see anything done, over any issue, especially ones where people are really hurt.This time, people went too far: they actually decided to force the church into a dialogue so it couldn't just put things off like happens so often.But I do think it will backfire. I really don't think the church will be swayed one bit, and in fact, I think they will more than likely get their backs up, their noses bent all out of shape, and decide they will NOT talk to anyone about this issue at all. I find it interesting, though, at just the time they announced they would talk to Affirmation, they came out and told everyone in California to opposed equal rights in marriage. Personally, I wasn't ever sure speaking with Family Services would have amounted to anything to begin with. They are not interested in helping gay people feel part of the church at all. Their mandate is to "cure" us of being gay, or get us so we can stay hidden in the closet and live a celibate empty lonely life and feel we are doing God's will by so doing. Their mandate wouldn't have even allowed them to listen with open minds. Their directives from the church leaders wouldn't have allowed them to do much of anything, except say they were there and heard gay people's issues (but didn't listen to them, or even try to understand them).Personally, I don't think going public will do anything really all that good. I think it will actually make things worse in many ways. And like one person wrote, the church will not move from its mountain, nor will gay members move from theirs. Doing either, without a direct revelation from the Lord telling us what to do, would basically compromise both groups.The question is: will anyone actually take it to the Lord. I don't mean accept it is wrong to be gay and then use the learning of men to decide how to cure people, and justify all that by claiming it follows the teachings of the scriptures (and the church's cures have changed all over the place throughout the years; were they from God, they would have worked, and they don't). Will anyone have the humility to actually ask God what to do, and make sure what he tells them actually works? That is the question, for until that is done, no dialogue will change a thing, nor really make being gay in the church any better than it is.Also, going public really doesn't do a thing as far as winning support from average members of the church, many who still think even being gay makes you unworthy to be a member, when in fact, that is not true. A worthy gay member can do everything, even leadership positions, if they are worthy. But most members really don't think that or believe it.I know that where I live, which is NOT in Utah, most members saw the entire thing as "those evil sick gays trying to force the church to accept their perversion." And going public only added fuel to that sort of thinking, and any openly gay person (living the gospel and worthy of taking part in the church in every respect) paid the price for that increased hostility. And that is ironic, as the dialogue is meant to stop that sort of hostility.I just think it was a mistake, and it will not bring about anything good, that is, having taken this to the media. No matter how interested in PR the church is, it will not give in to that sort of tactic, especially since the "Christian Right" who hates us as it is, is just waiting to jump on us for some other thing that makes us "not Christian."
The Church was not pleased that Affirmation went "public," yet at the same time they "postponed" indefinitely Affirmations meeting with Family Services. Affirmation was placed in a position of being "Damned if you do or Damned if you don't." The Church's actions show only what they have shown all along. They want gays and lesbians to go away quietly, and not make too much noise. It is simply too embarrassing and makes bad publicity. We are best left outside and unheard. I do not believe that the church will be moved by pressure from the media, however, I do believe that they can and will be changed from within. There is an increasing awareness of our situation both in and out of the church. If all openly gay members and ex-members continued to attend church instead of disappearing in silence we would make our presence known. Going to church frequently enough that members know who we are and that we are not only gay, but good God-fearing people, many in long-lasting, loving, committed relationship will certainly add support because of our example. The leaders of Affirmation have chosen to create a positive image of gay members and ex-members by trying to educate leaders and members of the church. Using the press or whatever means possible to do so, in a non offensive way, we can perhaps follow the technique used by Gandhi. He used peace and love to conquer. That method was also advocated by the greatest teacher of all, our Savior. I do not feel that the publicity made in the press recently was in excess and expressed real concerns and needs of the 10% of the LDS membership. Hopefully it opened up a few eyes, and will not hamper future dialog with the church. In closing I would like to note that each person who has written on this blog thus far has not left their name but preferred to remain anonymous. I hope one day there will no longer be fear to write a letter as this on a blog in support of equality for all of our Heavenly Father's Children. Their is no place for bigotry or fear in Christ's church.
To me, one of the reasons so many leave a message under "Anonymous" (myself included) is exactly the issue that Affirmation is trying to change: There is NO safety in using your name, especially if you are a gay person in the church who still wants to be an active member. It doesn't matter that we are open with leaders, we are basically required to "remain anonymous" and are not to let anyone know we are out there. Some people have come out in their wards, and with little troubles. Many are put under a gag-order by leaders. They may be gay, they may be worthy, but they are NOT to let anyone know they are gay, and if they do they will suffer the consequences. Whatever the church policies say, or how "lovingly they read" in reality and through application, they still require we become an "invisible people." The very fear that Affirmation wanted to address by this meeting with the church is exactly what we see illustrated in this very blog: people live in fear of being found out. It isn't just discovered because you are in the closet, or that you are a married man (even a leader in the church) living a double life, or any of those things. It is simply that when others who are active in the church read a comment made (and unlike we think, many members and leaders come to this site and read things, and what people write DOES come back to haunt them from time to time; I know, I lived through it back when I didn't worry about using my name, as after all, I was living worthily to be a member of the church; worthily, yes, but I wasn't staying quiet about gay issues), they DO make people's lives miserable. They do react against those they see as gay. It doesn't take an entire ward of bashers to ruin one's life, it takes only one, or a very outspoken gossip. These things ruin lives, and continue to ruin lives for very honorable gay people in the church. People act as people act, and policies and nice statements don't change that fact.In some places, being an out gay person at church may help people open their minds. It doesn't work in the "Bible Belt Areas" of either the US or Canada. In Canada, in fact, even though gay marriage and all that is legal, more anti-gay statements are heard now at church than ever before. Gays are blamed for everything. Even the presence of gay people is enough to ruin the country. I have seen people speak out against these statements, and I have see the reactions of those who made them, and being repentant and wanting to learn more is NOT one of them.It is nice to think being out will change the church from within, and in some places, it probably can. In many other centers, it only makes your life worse.These are the very issues that Affirmation wanted to address with its meeting. And the very way we write on this blog is proof that there is a problem, there are things leaders of the church have to address. And one thing we must remember, even though people eventually may "go to the Lord over an issue" in this church policy is NOT changed from the grass root members. It is changed from above. Average members can accept gay people all they want, but unless policies from above accept them and spell out the details for all to understand without any "personal interpretaions" allowed, things will NOT really change. I am happy to say, I am glad that the leaders of Affirmation really TRIED to get the dialogue going, so that real issues about the gay experience in the church could be dealt with. I am just not sure that going public was the answer. But then, I am not sure what would have been the answer when a meeting was called off. Even the "new statement" by the church, though acknowledging gays as people with a certain amount of rights, still concentrates in fears that we are out to remove their rights of worship. They are more worried that they may have to "marry" gay people, when civil laws have nothing to do with religious laws. I think the press conference was good, but I am not sure what the outcome of it will be. I don't think anyone can be sure of that.
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