The other day I got an email from a woman in my ward I didn't know very well. She was moving out and decided to write the entire ward's relief society a significant "F^*k you all" farewell. Of course she didn't use the f word because we're Mormon, and Mormons don't use that word (except in private or socially acceptable circles)(as a Mormon it feels nice to finally reach that point in your friendship where the f word can fly and everyone is comfortable and feeling fine about it.)
Anyway, this letter she wrote was one of those fine pieces of humanistic work where the filter melts off and the rage gets space and I have to say I really appreciated it. I was like, THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. Let's hear it. Have at it. But also to be honest I felt a little dismayed that I didn't get to know her better because obviously I could learn from her gusto.
So here's to her--the sister who wrote the heart-felt angry email. She had the choice to not push send and she didn't cower. This post is in honor of her.
I recently did a podcast interview with the glorious (I mean that) Gina Colvin. If you have an hour or so (it's a long one) you can listen to it here (or whatever). I was super nervous to post about it because it's a VERY candid interview and I wasn't sure how people would respond, but so far everyone has been really supportive and so I am leaning on that--maybe my story won't offend as much as I thought it would.
But towards the end of the interview I talked with Gina about what sparked my semi-disassociation (whatever we call it) with the church I have grown up loving and you know? In the spirit of my neighbor I am just going to say it--it was the actions of my fellow LDS sisters whose privileged lifestyle make them utterly incapable of hearing or seeing the pain shared by SO MANY. This church works for them, and in that they feel justified in not listening and not considering a bigger picture. When I became aware of what was hurting people in our church and I saw the refusal of my sisters to pick up the load and help carry it I became incredibly disillusioned. These sisters, they were the ones meant for the burden carrying--and I don't mean just when we've had a baby or had a miscarriage, but when we felt our hearts being broken by doctrine (or policy or culture--it's all the same to me). I don't mean to play the victim, I mean it as a fact, the social suicide that comes from saying you question what these women don't is a reality for so very many people.
(Fortunately for me, I have a barrage of support including ward sisters, real-life friends, writing groups, feminist circles, compassionate family, etc. I really am lucky when it comes to support. But I realize absolutely not everyone is so lucky.)
And let me say with all apology I have in me that I grew up in that world and I continue to try and slough it off me. I am grateful for experiences I have had lately to meet and have relationships with people in our LDS LGBT+ community. Grateful to speak on panels with people who know far worse pain than I can imagine and who I want more than anything to help carry the load. I would have otherwise no idea, NO IDEA how to navigate compassion. If I didn't know them, how could I love them? And if they didn't know me, how could they love me?
Last night, like probably a lot of people in our church, my phone was ringing and buzzing and chiming with notifications and messages from people asking "what do we do?" and you know, one of the great things that's happened as I've had a faith shift is losing the idea that I know everything. When you don't think you know everything all you are left with is a sense that there is nothing to do but try and love people.
And, you know, I am going to be honest it's easier for me to have empathy the people on the fringe, the people who have been hurt, the people who are hurting. It's easier for me to have compassion for those who have none little comfort in this church and this culture. It's really hard for me to have patience and kindness for my sisters who hop on social media ready with defenses that further hurt people. I have no more patience for that. I beg you I BEG YOU if you can't sit and listen in discomfort at the stories that are being share right now in our spaces PLEASE at least don't say anything at all. Don't pass around articles written by other women who don't mourn with those who mourn.
Please don't say policies that hurt gay families are in place to protect their children. You have no idea what you are talking about. And please PLEASE don't say "this isn't my issue" to whatever sentiment people are trying to convey from gender to sexuality because really, that's not the point of being Christian, or a good person in general. And p.s. your issue should be my issue, and my issue should be yours, if we're doing this right.
I am a white, straight woman with a heap of privilege and I am asking my sisters in the same space as me to please please please put down the weapons and listen to those who don't have what we have--a life of relative ease. Listen to their stories. Reach out to your closest Mormon gay associations and hear them before you post that link, or become defensive. Promise yourself to join Mormons Building Bridges on facebook before you concoct your counter-arguments.
You and I, we have nothing to gain by not listening.
I am a big believer that stories change lives.
(And rage-filled emails too.)