I’m not brave enough to show my face but I’m brave enough to speak up about something I live every day to try to fix, even though it’s too late. I served a mission in Virginia and had a companion who turned out to be gay. At that time in the 80s, gay meant that he was a predator. Gay meant that he just wanted to get in my pants and that he’d have no respect for my standards. In those days, we were taught to fear gay people and I was definitely afraid.
So, I reported him and had him sent home. I disowned him and tossed his friendship into the garbage. Sending him home wasn’t enough, though. I lied about him…I told stories about what he said he wanted and how I had to fight him to keep him away from me. None of that was true. I heard, a few years later, after I’d come home and gotten married and started my family, that he killed himself.
If he were alive today, I’d tell him how wrong and sorry I was and am. To this day, I don’t really know why he killed himself. But, to show that there really is justice in this world, my son has just told me that he’s gay and all the old ghosts have come up again.
I will not disown him and I’ll never throw him away…he’s my son and I love him more than anything. But, it just goes to show that old sins sometimes come home to haunt. I pray every day that my old companion will somehow forgive me even though I know I don’t deserve it. I now live every day watching out for people when they’re being mistreated for who they are. The old fears and prejudices are gone…
I still have my standards. But I also know that I have a responsibility to uphold standards of kindness and tolerance for everyone, even though that’s not easy sometimes…and I’m going to carry that with me for the rest of my life.’
— An anonymous Mormon man speaking to the photo project Humans of New York about his anti-gay behavior as a church missionary and his subsequent life as the parent of a gay child. The man chose not to show his face in his project photo and the commenters at the link above have alternated between praising him for sharing apologetic story and excoriating him for saying that “I don’t really know why [my friend] killed himself”.
If anything, his quote illustrates the way that anti-LGBT sentiment in the church literally destroys families, communities and lives. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that the Mormon Church donated 50 percent of the funds to overturn gay marriage through California’s Proposition 8 in 2008. In 2009, they backed an LGBT housing and employment protection ordinance but only with religious exemptions allowing religious universities to deny housing and employment to LGBT people.
Though the Church has continued trying to soften its public image with a nicey-nice website about same-sex attraction, but it remains steadfastly anti-LGBT, both opposing same-sex marriage and forbidding the children of same-sex couples to join the Church until adulthood. Having lost the same-sex marriage battle in the U.S., the Church is now attempting to prevent same-sex marriage in Mexico. More gay children will undoubtedly be rejected by their friends and family and attempt suicide as a result of their actions.
Thank goodness some Mexican moms have started a viral video campaign encouraging others to embrace their gay, lesbian and bisexual kids.
(featured image via Humans of New York)