by Averyl Dietering
I’m so, so tired, my friends. I’m tired of my straight Mormon friends trying to justify the Church’s hurtful actions in labeling same-sex marriage as apostasy and in denying membership to the children of same-sex couples. I’m tired of LGBTQIA+ individuals playing the “model minority” card, writing posts about how since they’re okay with the new handbook changes, everyone else should be too. I’m tired of my straight Mormon friends circulating these claims, as if to tell me that if I don’t agree with the Church’s new policies, it’s because I’m a bad queer. After all, all the good queers are okay with it.
I’m tired of my mother and other well-meaning individuals reciting the empty mantra: “We can love each other even if we don’t agree with each other.” In my experience, this is what individuals in positions of power use in order to pretend like they are not oppressing marginalized people as much as they really are. Yes, I can love you and you can love me, and we can disagree about some things and still love each other. But when the thing that we disagree on is whether or not I should be treated with respect, as a worthy daughter of God, then it is very unfair for you to still demand my love and my respect, while also demand that I respect your desire to disrespect me and see me as undeserving of God’s blessings.
I’m tired of the Church’s claims that they love LGBTQIA+ people. Good heavens, if this is what love feels like, I want no part of it. If “I love you” is the spoonful of sugar that hides the bitter pill, “but these are all the reasons why you are vile sinner that deserves no part of our gospel,” then I want no part of that love. If “I love you” means “I will show you that love only if you leave your partner and plan to stay celibate until the day that you die,” then I want no part of that love. If “I love you” means “I love you as you were back when you were good/straight/cisgender/active/believing,” then I cannot recognize that as love. And if “I love you” means “I hate everything that you do, but saying that I love you makes me feel better about myself,” then I ask you to please stop loving me with that kind of poisonous “love.”
I’m tired of the claim that this new policy was created to “protect children” from the cognitive dissonance of being taught one principle at church and a contradictory principle at home. What about the cognitive dissonance of young queer kids in LDS families? Have we considered how harmful it is for a young LGBTQIA+ person to go to church week after week and hear how wicked they are because of their sexuality and gender identity? For them to be pressured into being baptized into a Church that demands their lifelong celibacy? If we were really, truly worried about protecting children from such cognitive dissonance, we wouldn’t teach young queer and trans Mormons that it is a sin for them embrace their true gender or to find love with another human, regardless of gender.
I’m tired of the Church and its members trying to tell me how to feel. Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, commanded us to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. It seems we’ve forgotten this commandment. Instead, we rebuke those who mourn, and we tell those who stand in need of comfort that their thoughts and feelings are wrong, and if they could just see it a different way, they would not be so sad. As a church, it seems that we’ve become incapable of empathy. We’re so focused on feeling happy–after all, if you’re feeling happy, you’re righteous!–that feeling sorrow becomes somehow tainted by sin. We’re more concerned about fixing someone’s sorrow than we are about letting them know that it’s okay to feel the way they feel, and that they don’t have to be alone in that. We’ve forgotten that our Saviour was a man of sorrow.
I’m weary of LGBTQIA+ allies focusing on their own pain and asking LGBTQIA+ folk to pay attention to them. I’m weary of allies getting media attention for queer Mormon issues. Yes, I’m glad that you were able to share your love for LGBTQIA+ Mormons through that interview that you gave. But when you give an interview, it means that an LGBTQIA+ Mormon could have given the interview, but didn’t, because you took up that space. I’m asking you to look really hard at yourself and ask, “would I still be so interested in being an ally if it meant giving up the fame and accolades?”
And I’m tired of all of the LGBTQIA+ allies who will first turn to defend themselves when I ask that question, rather than listening, truly listening, as an ally should. As Christ would.
I’m tired of defending my family against people who claim to defend families. I’m tired of defending the worth of my soul against people who claim that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. I’m tired of knocking at a door that seems it will never be opened to me and my kind.
I’m tired of caring about something that everyone–allies, Mormons, queer Mormons, non-Mormons, ex-Mormons–is telling me is a lost cause. I’m tired of being told that I will never again have a home in the community that raised me. I’m tired of hearing that my identities are at war with each other, that the only way I can ever have peace is to abandon part of myself, to cut it off and let it die.