A talk given in Sacrament Meeting in the Pesega 5th Ward in Samoa, on the 22nd of May 2016.
My name is Zion and I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak today. This is my first time giving a talk in Sacrament meeting, so I am nervous AND excited!
My talk is inspired by a quote from the October 2015 General Conference address given by Elder Grey E. Stevenson. He said,
“We live in perilous times. Heavenly Father’s generous compensation for living in perilous times is that we also live in the fullness of times.”
These are perilous times for us youth with lots of challenges and temptations. But I want to focus on youth who have even greater challenges than most of us – the LDS youth who are lesbian, gay and transgender. Struggling with those feelings can make you feel ashamed, alone and abandoned. Many also have depression and suicidal thoughts. It doesn’t help when we tease and mock them for their differences. Or when we keep silent and pretend they don’t exist. They’re our brothers and sisters, our cousins, our friends, our family. And they are in peril. Last year I was deeply saddened by our church’s new policy about lesbian and gay members of the church and their children. The policy can make LGBT youth feel lost and alone, like Heavenly Father doesn’t love them the way they are, like maybe they aren’t welcome here.
What can we do to help them? Elder Quentin L Cook of the Twelve Apostles said, “As a church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
We have the fullness of the gospel and most of us have made baptismal covenants to stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ, “to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”
I often ask myself, how can I be a true follower of Christ in this? I came up with three suggestions.
1. Understanding each other so we don’t make the small gap larger but by letting our similarities and differences bring us together or in other words being a friend.
2. Speak up. – Learn about the correct terms to use when speaking about LGBT people and encourage others to use them, and not in a unkind way. I was in class one day and some of the students were talking in a mean mocking way about gay people. I didn’t have the courage to speak up and I’m still disappointed that I didn’t. I’m trying to do better and be braver. The more of us who can stand as a Christlike friend, to our LGBT friends and family the more welcoming a place this ward would be.
3. Remember who we are. – We are children of God, brothers and sisters. And we are all imperfect and trying to be better. It’s not our job to judge our LGBT brothers and sisters with their struggles on their journey.
Elder Stevenson finished his talk with this quote, “God is our loving Heavenly Father. He wants to communicate with us and we can do that through sincere prayer. We are his children. He weeps with us when suffer and rejoices when we do what is right.” Heavenly Father is weeping for the suffering of our LGBT youth.
I hope we can all try to be better followers of Christ. I want all my LGBT brothers and sisters to know I love them and that I know God loves you all as His children. Just the way you are.
In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
Zion lives in Samoa with her parents and she was raised in the LDS church. She has four siblings. She’s a sophomore in high school and attends the LDS Church College in Apia.