Dear John Dehlin,
I am very sorry you have been excommunicated. I was not there during the trial, and I haven’t talked to you about it. I don’t know what is in your heart, nor do I know what is in the Church’s mind right now. I hope you and your family are able to find strength and joy along the journey of this life, whether you’re in the Church or not.
There are many things you have been to many people.
You have been a friend to others.
You have been a starter for important conversations.
You have been a tutor and mentor to many.
You have been a counselor to many.
You have been a father, a husband, and a follower of what you believe to be right.
Indeed, you have been many wonderful things. However, there are some things you are not.
You are NOT a martyr for the LGBTQ cause.
And as of right now, you are NOT a good ally to the LGBTQ community.
How could it be? You and others might ask. People might say “but he did that one study’ or “he has helped many LGBTQ people before.” Well, it is possible to do all those things and still behave in ways that are problematic.
Allyship is based on one simple principle: it is NOT about the ally.
Allyship can be compared to interpreting a conversation between two people who speak different languages. Sometimes, individuals in the LGBTQ community do not speak the same language as cis-het individuals, especially those with a Christian background. In those situations, an ally can facilitate the conversation, but the ally needs to keep in mind that this is not their conversation to have. It is not their message that is being delivered, and it especially is not a conversation between the ally and the cis-het individual.
Allyship should also not be paraded or celebrated as if it were some grandiose accomplishment. You’re a decent human being! Good job, you! Allies receiving prizes, honors, and celebrations for their allyship are a determent to the LGBTQ cause, especially when the attention that allies receive drowns out attention for LGBTQ folks. These actions further silence the LGBTQ community and turn the equality conversation into one that, again, is between two cis-het individuals.
Your excommunication process has involved claims about your allyship to the LGBTQ community, especially around same-sex marriage. Even if this has not been your intention, you have allowed the media to portray an image of you that is problematic to the LGBTQ community and does us a disservice. It has become clear that your work/support of the LGBTQ cause has not been the main cause for your excommunication, but rather topics related to doctrinal issues. However, you continue to appeal to “human rights” and talk about your allyship as if you are wearing the LGBTQ community to defend yourself. Indeed, you have taken it to a point to which my Facebook timeline is filled with people lamenting the “cost” of your “allyship” to the LGBTQ community.
We are not accessories.
We are not shields.
We are not objects you can appeal to.
We are not your flag.
We do not need you to save us.
We do not need you to start or sustain conversations regarding LGBTQ issues.
We do not need you to parade us around major media outlets.
We do not need you to be our patron saint nor our martyr.
Where are those candlelight vigils for LGBTQ members who were excommunicated for choosing to change their gender expression to one that fit their gender identity?
Where are the candlelight vigils for LGBTQ members who were excommunicated for loving someone?
Where are those candlelight vigils for BYU students who got kicked out of the university for requesting to start an LGBTQ group before 2005?
Where are the candlelight vigils for those teen LDS LGBTQ individuals who have committed suicide because of societal and family pressures?
Where are the candlelight vigils for rights other than marriage? Why do you keep insisting on talking about marriage when many queer individuals are desperate for medical resources, housing and employment?
Where are those candlelight vigils?
Moving forward, you will need to stop using the LGBTQ community as a prop and start actually being an ally. I hope that as you go through these post-excommunication months, you reanalyze your allyship to the LGBTQ community. In doing so, you must change the attitudes you hold, because they are not appropriate.
John, I am sorry for what you are going through, and I hope that you take this message to heart.
A gay, queer, homoromantic, bisexual, man.