For the past two years or so I have volunteered as a speaker for PFLAG. We go to schools, churches, and workplaces and share our stories to promote LGBTQ acceptance, conduct diversity/sensitivity training, and answer questions about being gay in Massachusetts. I usually tell my story about going through reparative therapy, accepting myself, and becoming part of an underground gay community at BYU. Today I shared my story with students in a health class at a state college south of Boston.
After we tell our stories we open the floor for questions. This part is always the most fun for me because I get to hear how people react to the coming out process. During the Q and A, without fail, I get these two questions: How have your parents reacted to your coming out? Are you still Mormon?
On my parents:
I am so lucky to have great parents who love me and who have come a long way in better understanding me as a gay person. I usually don’t talk much about my parents when I tell my story because I feel like they have their own journey and it isn’t my story to tell. My parents have always treated me with love. They didn’t react favorably to my coming out, but they did the best with the information they had. They came to my wedding. They embrace my husband at Christmas. What more could I ask?
On my ongoing feelings about Mormonism:
I am not a practicing Mormon. Even if I wanted to, I am not allowed to fully participate in the LDS Church or to be a member per its own policies. In the past I was really angry with the Church, but that has mostly passed, and now I appreciate Mormonism for everything it gave me.
The follow-up question is usually: If the Church changed and started allowing gay members, would you go back?
This is a hard question. I used to answer if with an unequivocal no. For a while I dodged the question by explaining why I thought the Church would never change, or why the hypothetical question was unfair. But today as the question was posed I almost said yes.
In the end, I am not sure what I would do if the Church changed and embraced persons in same sex relationships. It is honestly a difficult scenario to realistically imagine. If it does happen, it will likely be many years in the future, after I have spent most of my adult life (raising a family, etc) as a non-member. I have changed considerably since I left the Church. But I do think back fondly on going to church and serving in callings. I am surprised at how easy it is to forget those little things that used to bug me. So who knows?
What I do know, is that as difficult as it may be to decide, I would like the opportunity to choose. I would like the Church to embrace its gay members, so that I could decide for myself if I wanted to be one.